Moscow is currently experiencing some of its heaviest snowfall records in recent decades. Air travel has been disrupted and over 2,000 trees have been brought down. One night even saw 15 inches of snow (which still pales in comparison to Chicago’s 2015 Super Bowl storm that brought 19.3 inches).
Muscovites are desperate for relief from massive pile ups of snow and resorted to writing “Navalny” in piles of snow. Many residents found their driveways cleared within a few hours. Why? Alexei Navalny is one of Vladimir Putin’s fiercest domestic critics and he was actually barred from running for president against Vladimir Putin in the March 18th elections under a corruption charge that many view as “arbitrary.”
Putin famously refuses to refer to Navalny by name, preferring to refer to him as “that person” in a manner that is straight out of Harry Potter. One Moscow resident found that graffiting Navalny’s name on a pile of snow “prompted immediate reaction and that council workers removed the graffiti ‘within hours.’”
This idea originated with a local journalist who posted a video of his sidewalk getting shoveled after he wrote Navalny’s name on it.
This trick hasn’t worked for every Muscovite. Some residents complained that city workers came to her property and “merely mix[ed] up the snow to obscure Navalny’s name.”
What does Navalny think about being used as a pretext for getting faster show clearing? He finds it “very funny.”
While Navalny is barred from running for election, a Muscovite’s reaction summed up how faster cleanup might lead to increased support for him down the road: “Now everyone in the country and beyond knows that the surname ‘Navalny’ is not just a surname, but a curse that forces people to work.”