Moscow law enforcement officers search homes of opposition candidates following several days of mass protests for fair elections
On the evening of July 24, police officers conducted a search of opposition candidate Dmitry Gudkov’s apartment. News of the search emerged at around 10:00 PM local time: MBK Media reported that 10 officers, three in uniform and seven in civilian dress, were present in Gudkov’s home. His wife, Valeria, wrote that the search was conducted under the umbrella of a newly opened criminal case that accuses opposition protesters of “exerting pressure” on the Russian capital’s election commissions. Police seized three laptops, a desktop computer’s main drive, several flash drives, and an iPhone during the search. After they left, Gudkov was called in for questioning. He has an appointment with investigators for July 25 at 10:00 AM. Gudkov said he is currently classified as a witness in the case. However, witnesses in criminal cases can easily be reclassified as suspects in Russian jurisprudence.
News later broke that other candidates for Moscow City Duma seats had been searched as well. An hour after Gudkov’s apartment was searched, police arrived at the home of another independent Moscow City Duma candidate, Ivan Zhdanov. Zhdanov directs the Anti-Corruption Foundation, an investigative organization founded by Alexey Navalny. After the search, Zhdanov was also called in for questioning, but unlike Gudkov, he was transported to an interrogation room immediately. At about midnight, police also paid visits to municipal deputy Nikolay Baladin as well as Alexander Solovyov, another Moscow City Duma candidate. Solovyov wrote that police mistakenly went to the address where he is officially registered as a resident rather than to the location where he actually lives. Yet another Moscow City Duma candidate, Yulia Galyamina, was called in for questioning, as was Dmitry Gudkov’s father, former State Duma Deputy Gennady Gudkov.
A criminal case targeting “interference” in the election process was first opened on July 24. Members of Russia’s Investigative Committee asserted that the mass protests organized in Moscow in the course of the past week were intended to “exert pressure” on administrators responsible for registering local candidates. The Committee’s press release also noted that members of local election commissions have received threats of violence since the protests began. The maximum sentence in the case will be five years in prison.
On the evening of July 24, opposition activist Alexey Navalny was jailed for 30 days. Navalny received the sentence because he called for Muscovites to protest outside City Hall in support of independent candidates for the City Duma. A Facebook post he wrote calling on Moscow residents to read what the candidates themselves had to say on the matter was also mentioned in the order for him to be jailed. Navalny had finished his previous, 10-day jail sentence only two weeks beforehand. He received that sentence for protesting in support of Meduza correspondent Ivan Golunov.
Translation by Hilah Kohen