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Bono Pays Tribute to Late Russian Opposition Leader Alexei Navalny During U2 Sphere Show: ‘Freedom Is Not Just a Word’

Mr. Nimbus | 02/20/2024

U2 singer Bono paid tribute to late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny during the band’s residency show at Las Vegas’ Sphere on Saturday night, less than a day after the most prominent critic of Russian president Vladimir Putin was reported dead. “Alexei Navalny!” Bono said as the crowd repeated the Kremlin critic’s name back to him in full.


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“Next week it will be two years since Putin invaded. For these people, freedom is not just a word in a song,” Bono said about the Russian dictator’s unprovoked war on Ukraine in video captured by a fan. “For these people, freedom is the most important word in the world – so important that Ukrainians are fighting and dying for it. And so important that Alexey Navalny chose to give his up,” Bono added to cheers from the crowd.

Navalny’s death while in custody has drawn worldwide condemnation in light of the opposition leader’s history speaking out against Putin’s repressive rule. In 2020, anti-corruption crusader and lawyer Navalny, 47, was poisoned with a deadly nerve agent Novichok. Though he never confirmed Putin was behind the attempt on his life, Navalny blamed the Russian leader for the attempted assassination using a method preferred by Russia’s Federal Security Service.

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Despite the clear and present danger to his life, Navalny returned to Russia in 2021, where he was immediately arrested and accused of parole violations, leading to rare mass protests across the nation. He was then sentenced to more than 20 years in prison on embezzlement and contempt charges in what international observers dubbed a show trial. After going missing from the prison he was sent to for three weeks in Dec. 2023, Navalny popped up in a barren Arctic Circle penal colony earlier this year before his death was announced on Friday.

Officials at the Russian prison service said Navalny reportedly died after falling unconscious while taking a walk. “Apparently, Putin would never, ever say his name so I felt tonight, the free people from here – people who believe in freedom – we must say his name,” Bono said during Saturday’s show, according to CNN.

Former one-term president Donald Trump — the leading Republican candidate for the 2024 presidential election — has so far declined to publicly condemn Russia and Putin for Navalny’s death, which has still not been explained. In fact, Trump used it as a means to once again denigrate his political opponents and complain about his many legal issues in what he dubbed a “FAILING NATION!” in one of his all-caps social media missives over the weekend.

The White House on Tuesday (Feb. 20) announced plans for “major sanctions” on Russia in the wake of the incident, with National security communications advisor John Kirby saying the new sanctions are designed to “hold Russia accountable for what happened to Mr. Navalny,” according to USA Today.

U2, long known for their political activism, followed the Navalny shout-out with a cover of Crowded House’s 1986 ballad “Don’t Dream It’s Over,” a staple of their Vegas shows. Just months after Russia launched the war on Ukraine, Bono and U2 guitarist The Edge played a May 2022 show at the Khreschatyk metro station in Kyiv at the invitation of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“Edge and I got to stand with some of the people in Ukraine as they stood in that train station, which was a converted bomb shelter,” Bono told the Sphere crowd of that underground gig. “We got to stand with some of the people of Ukraine as they waited for the train to arrive with the rest of the free world on it. They’re still waiting for some of that train to arrive. America, you’re so generous. But let’s get these people what they need.”

This post was originally published on this site

Written by Mr. Nimbus

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