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Italy's political parties unite in Rome rally for Navalny

Rome initiative for Navalny has cross-party support.

Italy's main political parties will gather together in Rome on Monday at a rally in memory of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny who died in a Russian jail on Friday.

The initiative to "remember Navalny and his battle for freedom" was launched by the centrist Azione leader Carlo Calenda who hailed the bipartisan support as "perhaps the first time in the recent history of our country."

Russian opposition leader Navalny, 47, was the fiercest and most prominent critic of the regime of President Vladimir Putin.

Navalny died in an Arctic prison camp where he had been serving 19 years on extremism charges which were widely viewed as politically motivated.

Monday's torchlight vigil or fiaccolata will take place at 18.30 in Piazza del Campidoglio, seat of Rome's city hall, with the support of the capital's centre-left mayor Roberto Gualtieri.

The leader of the centre-left Partito Democratico (PD) Elly Schlein said her party would be present "to oppose a regime that kills dissent and freedom, in solidarity with those in Russia today who are arrested for dissenting against Putin and protesting over Navalny's death."

The right-wing Fratelli d'Italia party of premier Giorgia Meloni "will be there with a delegation", the party's organisation manager Giovanni Donzelli confirmed on social media, while Forza Italia said it would send a delegation "without hesitation" and "without flags".

Also joining the demonstration are the populist Movimento 5 Stelle, led by former premier Giuseppe Conte; the left-wing Greens and Left Alliance (AVS), and the centrist Italia Viva of former premier Matteo Renzi.

The last party to sign up to the initiative was the right-wing Lega, part of the governing coalition with Fratelli d'Italia and Forza Italia.

The party's leader Matteo Salvini earlier on Saturday said he would sue Calenda over a post on X in which the latter accused the Lega of still having "strong links" with Putin.

Cover image: Piazza del Campidoglio, Rome. Photo Wanted in Rome.

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