Russian citizens have held a vigil in the Scottish Capital after the death of opposition leader Alexei Navalny

The 47-year-old, who was one of Vladimir Putin's most outspoken critics, died in an Arctic Circle jail cell on Friday (February 16). 

In response, anti-war Russians gathered at the Consultate General of Russia in Melville Street at 7pm that evening, to "honour Navalny's memory and legacy". 

Read more: Alexei Navalny's team confirms death and calls for body to be returned to family

The protesters said Mr Navalny was a "symbol of hope" for tens of millions of Russians and a "model of resistance against corruption and authoritarianism".

Among the attendees was Alex Cole-Hamilton, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats.

The politician said: "It was a privilege to join Russian citizens outside the consulate this evening in a vigil for the life of Alexei Navalny, murdered by the Putin kleptocracy today. 

The Herald: Flowers and messages were left at the Consulate General of Russia Flowers and messages were left at the Consulate General of Russia (Image: Contributed)

"Their defiance and their desire to follow Navalny’s dream of a free and democratic Russia was inspiring."

Mr Cole-Hamilton said at the vigil: “Tonight we recognise the life and the murder of a great man. And while we stand in vigil to the life and death of Alexei Navalny, we recognise also that he is just the latest in a long list of free thinking Russians, who have fallen to Putin’s regime.

"Alexei joins others, like Anna Politkovskya, Boris Netzov and Alexander Litvinenko. All those who have fallen in pursuit of a free and democratically accountable Russian federation.

“Putin has brought war to Europe and Kleptocracy to Moscow. He and his gangsters have bled your motherland of economic prosperity and he has robbed a generation of young men of their lives on the battlefield of his ambition. He doesn’t belong in the Kremlin, he belongs in the Hague on indictment for war crimes.

“So I stand with you, I will continue to stand with you, the free democracies of the world share your grief tonight, and we will not turn away.”

Read more: Tributes to Alexei Navalny removed from Russian cities as police look on

People left flowers at the consulate in memory of Mr Navalny, but they had been cleared by Saturday morning. 

It comes after Mr Navalny's wife Yulia Navalnaya said the Russian President must be brought to justice, while US President joe Biden said there was "no doubt" he was to blame.

Scotland's First Minister Humza Yousaf said in a statement: "There should be no equivocation about it, Putin should be held accountable for the death of Alexei Navalny.

"Alexei demonstrated a colossal amount of courage in standing up to the Putin regime despite the torture he knew he would endure. My thoughts with Alexei's wife and family."

Mr Navalny had been jailed since January 2021, when he returned to Moscow to face certain arrest after recovering in Germany from nerve agent poisoning he blamed on the Kremlin.

He was later convicted three times, saying each case was politically motivated, and was serving a sentence of 19 years for extremism.

Hours after his death was reported, his wife said: “I want Putin and everyone around Putin, Putin’s friends, his government to know that they will bear responsibility for what they did to our country, to my family and to my husband."