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Russian police detain Navalny allies ahead of weekend protest
Russia

Russian police detain Navalny allies ahead of weekend protest

2 min. 28.01.2021 From our online archive
Brother of jailed opposition leader is among several activists arrested
Oleg Navalny (pictured right) with his brother Alexei at a rally in 2019, was one of several activists detained on Wednesday Photo: Shutterstock
Oleg Navalny (pictured right) with his brother Alexei at a rally in 2019, was one of several activists detained on Wednesday Photo: Shutterstock

Russian police detained the brother of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny and several other activists on Wednesday night ahead of a planned nationwide protest on Sunday to demand the Kremlin critic’s release.

On Thursday, a court rejected Alexei Navalny’s appeal to be released, pending a hearing on February 2.

“Everything was clear to me even before the beginning of the hearing,” Navalny told the judge after the ruling. He spoke via video link from the Moscow jail where he was taken after being arrested upon his return to Russia on January 17.

At the February 2 hearing, a Moscow court will rule on a motion by authorities to convert a suspended sentence Navalny received in a 2014 case into as long as three-and-a-half years of prison time.

Authorities argue he failed to check in as required, including during the time he was in a German hospital recovering from an August nerve-agent attack that he and Western governments blame on the Kremlin. Russian authorities deny any involvement.

On Wednesday, Alexei's brother Oleg Navalny, Lyubov Sobol and Anastasia Vasilyeva were among those detained for 48 hours, Ivan Zhdanov, director of the Anti-Corruption Foundation, wrote on Twitter. The activists were brought in as the rallies they organised on January 23 allegedly violated sanitary regulations aimed at slowing the spread of Covid-19.

The authorities also opened a criminal case against one of Navalny’s top aides, Leonid Volkov, alleging he encouraged minors to participate in the unsanctioned protests, Russia’s Investigative Committee said in a statement on Thursday.

“As usual, black is white, freedom is slavery and two times two is five,” Volkov said on Twitter in response to the charges. He denied appealing to underage protesters.

Tens of thousands of people in cities across Russia joined protests last Saturday to demand Navalny be freed from jail, where he is being held for 30 days over alleged parole violations. They were some of the largest unsanctioned rallies under President Vladimir Putin’s 21-year rule. The Kremlin has rejected calls from Western leaders to release Navalny.

Moscow prosecutors issued official warnings on Thursday to organisers of the January 31 protests, as well as five internet companies for distributing calls to join the actions, according to the news agency TASS.

Oleg Navalny was let out of prison in 2018 after serving a three-and-a-half year sentence for embezzlement, which the opposition says was used to put pressure on his brother. 

Alexei was arrested on January 17 on charges he violated the terms of a suspended sentence related to the same case. 

In 2017, the European Court of Human Rights ruled the brothers’ right to a fair trial was violated in that case.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.


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