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U2's Bono Pays Tribute to Late Russian Opposition Leader Alexei Navalny

U2's Bono lead the Sphere crowd in a chant of Alexei Navalny's name on Feb. 17.

Source: Rich Fury

Bono in the Sphere, where he lead concertgoers to chant Alexei Navalny's name over the weekend..

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Irish band U2 took time out onstage to remember Alexei Navalny, the Russian opposition leader who died Feb. 16 in the IK-3 penal colony in Western Siberia.

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Source: Chris Harris / MEGA

Alexei Navalny at a 2012 rally in Pushkin Square, Moscow.

The band, still performing its ongoing residency at the Sphere in Las Vegas, has been performing an acoustic version of Crowded House's "Don't Dream It's Over." Right before the song on Feb. 17, Bono came center stage to speak about Navalny and his own personal history with the Ukranian people.

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In video captured by an audience member, Bono spoke about how he and the Edge were able to busk in a Kyiv subway just before the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. "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. 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." He then added, presumably in reference to the ongoing congressional stalemate that is currently holding up further U.S. aide to Ukraine: "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."

Source: MEGA

Bono spoke about U2's experiences in Ukraine on Feb. 17.

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Strolling around with mic in hand, he pointed out: "Next week it’ll be two years since Putin invaded and tried to destroy the hard-won freedoms of 41 million people where they are. Next, it’ll be Poland, next it’ll be Lithuania, East Germany — who knows where this man will or won’t go." As Bono has expounded for almost forty years since his involvement with the Conspiracy of Hope Tour in 1986, he went on: "To these people freedom is not just a word in a song."

Source: ℗ © arry Mullen, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton, Paul David Hewson /YouTube

Pride (In The Name of Love)' at Amnesty International: A Conspiracy of Hope concert in 1986.

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Bono then led the crowd in a chant of "Alexei Navalny" as he and the Edge quietly started their acoustic segment.

Navalny, who was a fierce critic of Vladimir Putin, reportedly died in a penal colony above the Arctic Circle in Western Siberia. Navalny had been an outspoken observer since the 2012 Russian general elections, making a name for himself on the 2013 Moscow mayoral ballot. Through the remaining years, he fought against the Putin regime, survived several assassination attempts and, after he return to Russia from Germany after treatment for poisoning in 2021, he was immediately detained.

He was serving a 30-year sentence for "extremist activity." Amnesty International recognized Navalny as a "political prisoner," as did the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the Human Rights Centre Memorial. U.S. President Joe Biden explicitly blamed Putin for the opposition leader's death in a statement on Feb. 16.

Source: MEGA

Las Vegas' the Sphere, which U2 have made their home over the past several months.

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This isn't the first time Bono & Co. have gone off script at their residency in response to breaking news. In December, the group performed the Pogues' "Rainy Night in Soho" in tribute to the memory of Shane MacGowan.


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