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Navalny Calls For 'Anti-Idiocy' Campaign Over 'Nazi' Photo Fine

Aleksei Navalny shows the photo from the Victory Parade with Nazi flags.

Opposition activist Aleksei Navalny has called on supporters to join a so-called anti-idiocy campaign by flooding social media with a historical photograph from the 1945 Red Square parade marking the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany.

Navalny made the call on February 6 after a regional court fined one of his campaign volunteers for publishing the picture on his account on VK, the Russian social-media network.

The photo, published by Mikhail Listov, shows Soviet soldiers lined up with Nazi banners pointed towards the ground in a symbol of defeat. The photograph was taken during a triumphant parade on Red Square to celebrate the Soviet victory.

A court in the far northern city of Arkhangelsk fined Listov 1,000 rubles last month after finding him guilty of publicly displaying Nazi symbols, which are illegal to publish or display under a Russian antiextremism law.

According to the news portal Meduza, the ruling means Listov could be added to the government's official list of terrorists and extremists.

"Not only is it a famous photograph, but a symbol. To a certain degree it is the key photo of the Great Patriotic War," Navalny noted in a blog post. "The importance of the shot is reflected in the fact that it graces the cover of 11th-grade history books."

The blog post featured Navalny holding up a Russian high-school history book whose cover has the same World War II photo as the one that Listov posted.

Many have already taken to social media to repost the picture, and mock the ruling.

"Anyone want a little bit of banned Russian history?" one man wrote on Twitter.

"Book-cover designers are extremists. Put them all on trial!" another person tweeted.

Others noted that the same photo can be found on other Russian history textbooks.

Navalny, a charismatic lawyer who has built a national following by railing against endemic corruption, was barred from running in the March 18 Russian presidential election due to a financial-crimes conviction. He and his supporters say the case was political retribution for his anticorruption work.

He has called for Russians to boycott the election, dismissing the vote as the "reappointment" of President Vladimir Putin.

His supporters rallied across Russia on January 28 to back his call for the election boycott, with more than 350 people detained, including Navalny.

With reporting by Current Time
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    Tony Wesolowsky

    Tony Wesolowsky is a senior correspondent for RFE/RL in Prague, covering Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, and Central Europe, as well as energy issues. His work has also appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Bulletin Of The Atomic Scientists.