Russia increases arrests of opponents ahead of protests for Navalny

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Moscow | Russian authorities on Friday arrested new supporters of jailed opponent Alexei Navalny, while others were due to appear in court on the eve of a day of nationwide protests.

Mr. Navalny’s team, detained until at least February 15 and targeted by multiple legal proceedings, called for protest on Saturday in 65 Russian cities to demand the release of the opponent, “illegal” gatherings according to authorities.

After arresting several collaborators of the Kremlin bête noire on Thursday, police continued the arrests on Friday with the coordinator of the opponent’s headquarters in Vladivostok in the Far East, Ekaterina Vedernikova, and a collaborator of the headquarters of Novosibirsk, in Siberia, Elena Noskovets.

These arrests were reported by the opponent’s team and the specialized NGO OVD-Info.

Arrested Thursday, a rising figure of the movement, Lioubov Sobol, and the spokesperson for Mr. Navalny, Kira Iarmych, are due to appear before judges on Friday for having called for demonstrations qualified as illegal.

Ms. Iarmych’s lawyer, Veronika Poliakova, told AFP that her client faced 10 days in detention. Lioubov Sobol for his part faces 30 days in prison but could suffer, as in previous arrests, a simple fine because she has a small child.

Among the other supporters of Mr. Navalny in the crosshairs of the police, Georgui Albourov, who participates in the anti-corruption investigations of the opponent, and Vladlen Los, a lawyer of his organization, of Belarusian nationality, who was ordered to leave the territory.

The head of Mr. Navalny’s team in Krasnodar, southern Russia, Anastassia Pantchenko, was also arrested on Thursday.

Faced with the mobilization scheduled for Saturday, the Kremlin, the Prosecutor’s Office and the Interior Ministry have warned against participating in these rallies.

Russian telecommunications gendarme Roskomnadzor threatened social networks with fines if they did not remove calls for demonstrations, and in particular warned the Tik Tok and Vkontakte platforms, the Russian equivalent of Facebook.

After his arrest on Sunday, Alexeï Navalny retaliated on Tuesday by broadcasting an investigation into the huge and sumptuous property he claims to enjoy by President Vladimir Putin, on the shores of the Black Sea, and whose construction would have cost more than a billion dollars. ‘euros.

Friday morning, this long investigation accompanied by a video of nearly two hours had already been seen more than 53 million times on YouTube, a record for an investigation by Mr. Navalny.

The opponent was arrested on January 17, on his return from five months of recovery after suspected poisoning, of which he accused the Kremlin. Moscow rejects these allegations.

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