‘Intimidation and robbery’ Police launch nationwide raids against Alexey Navalny's regional offices, days after ‘Smart Vote’ potentially shifts election results in Moscow
Update: Navalny spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh announced on Twitter that Russian officials have started freezing the personal bank accounts of Navalny's regional coordinators. So far, officials have targeted staff in Krasnodar, Stavropol, Omsk, Tambov, and St. Petersburg.
Police have raided local offices operated by anti-corruption activist and opposition leader Alexey Navalny in 43 cities across Russia, says Anti-Corruption Foundation project manager Leonid Volkov. The only Navalny team offices not searched on September 12 were in Samara and Ufa, which police raided two days earlier. In Perm, for example, police officers entered Navalny’s office through the window, while officials in Yekaterinburg opened the front door with their own key. According to Volkov, police raided not only the organization’s offices, but the homes of several coordinators and volunteers. Volkov estimates that at least 1,000 police officers have been mobilized to coordinate more than 150 searches across the country.
Police are seizing equipment from Navalny’s local coordinators and local offices. Leonid Volkov says law-enforcement officers are searching Navalny’s offices without staff present, and disabling security cameras. “The main goal is the same everywhere: seize all the equipment they can,” Volkov tweeted on Thursday. Navalny’s press secretary, Kira Yarmysh, called the raids “an act of intimidation and robbery.” Police are also confiscating equipment from local coordinators’ homes, and then summoning them for questioning.
The raids are connected to a money-laundering investigation against the Anti-Corruption Foundation, says Volkov, who points out that the foundation has no regional affiliates or offices, and says Navalny’s local headquarters belong to a separate organization. Volkov says the nationwide raids are being carried out on the basis of 94 rulings issued by Moscow’s Basmanny District Court on September 4. The rulings were apparently issued at the request of a police inspector named Gabdulin — possibly the same official who was reportedly assigned to investigate supposed mass rioting in Moscow on July 27. Leonid Volkov ties the raids to the “triumph of Smart Vote,” a tactical voting project Navalny promoted ahead of last Sunday’s local elections.
Police are also searching the homes of several coordinators at the “Golos” election monitoring movement, according to the group’s Telegram channel. Officials have come to the homes of regional Golos coordinators in at least two cities: Kazan and Saratov. Police also searched the home of Krasnodar journalist Alexander Savelev’s parents. These raids are also reportedly connected to the money-laundering case against the Anti-Corruption Foundation, but neither Golos nor Savelev know how exactly.
These aren’t the first raids in the case against the Anti-Corruption Foundation. In early August, police searched the homes of the organization’s staff, the foundation’s Moscow office, and the office of a firm that provides Navalny’s group with accounting services. Afterwards, officials froze the bank accounts of the foundation and several employees. In late August, police searched and interrogated Anna Biryukova, the head of the foundation’s sociological service and Leonid Volkov’s wife. In early September, in connection with the July 27 “rioting” investigation (not the money-laundering case), police also raided the foundation’s office, Navalny’s Moscow headquarters, and the studio where he films content for the YouTube channel Navalny Live.