Sunday, April 14, 2024

Bono pays tribute to Vladimir Putin critic Alexei Navalny at U2 show

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U2 frontman Bono pleaded for “people who believe in freedom” to chant the name of former Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny during a performance on Saturday in Las Vegas.

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Navalny, a politician, lawyer and an anti-corruption activist who was an unyielding critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, died under mysterious circumstances on Friday at an Arctic penal colony in Kharp after he felt unwell after a walk.

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Navalny’s lawyer and his mother Lyudmila were told he had died from “sudden death syndrome,” Reuters reported on Monday, although his cause of death was still being investigated at the time. He was 47.

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That led Bono to ask fans to chant Navalny’s name during a show at the Las Vegas Sphere, where U2 is in residency.

“Apparently Putin would never, ever say (Navalny’s) name,” Bono said, according to the Daily Mail. “So I thought tonight, the people who believe in freedom must say his name. Not just remember it, but say it.”

The Irish rocker then turned his attention toward Putin and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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“Next week it’ll be two years since Putin invaded and tried to destroy the hard-won freedoms (of the Ukrainian people),” Bono said.

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“Next, it’ll be Poland, next it’ll be Lithuania, East Germany … who knows where this man will or won’t go?

“To these people, freedom is not just a word in a song. For these people, freedom is the most important word in the world — so important that Ukrainians are fighting and dying for it. And it’s so important that Alexei Navalny chose to give his up.”

Navalny had previously dodged an assassination attempt after falling ill in August 2020 on a flight from Tomsk, Russia, to Moscow. A comatose Navalny, who frequently investigated allegations of corruption within Putin’s ruling United Russia party, was evacuated from a hospital in Omsk to Berlin, where he recovered after traces of the nerve agent Novichok were found in his blood and urine samples.

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The Anti-Corruption Foundation head returned to Russia in January 2021, when he was arrested for violating his parole for leaving the country. He remained behind bars up until his death.

The incident was documented in the Oscar-winning film Navalny.

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