Federal officials cut through Navalny's office door in case connected to report about corruption involving Russia's prime minister
Special forces agents from the Federal Bailiff Service raided the Anti-Corruption Foundation’s Moscow office. Leonid Volkov, opposition politician Alexey Navalny’s chief of staff, first reported the search shortly after noon, Moscow time, on Thursday, December 26, saying that about 40 people were in the middle of a staff meeting when the authorities arrived. The foundation refused to open its front door for the agents, who then cut through it with a buzzsaw. No one was detained, though the organization’s press secretary initially reported that Navalny himself had been arrested. It turns out that officers merely forced him into the hallway during the search.
The visit from the Federal Bailiff Service is connected to the foundation’s bombshell report on corruption involving Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, according to staff. Without disclosing further details, government spokespeople confirmed Thursday’s raid, stating that it was part of an ongoing criminal investigation. More than two years ago, a court ordered Navalny’s group to delete its report about Medvedev from YouTube. The video is still published on Navalny’s personal blog, for which the Anti-Corruption Foundation says it can’t be held responsible. The organization removed the report from its official accounts on social media back in 2017. In August 2019, the foundation’s director, Ivan Zhdanov, was charged with maliciously ignoring court orders.
The Anti-Corruption Foundation calls the raid a “robbery.” According to Leonid Volkov, officials seized all employees’ laptops, including those purchased to replace the hardware confiscated in another ongoing criminal case against supposed money laundering. Volkov says the raid coincided with another blocking of another bank account the foundation uses for fundraising. The last time this happened, he says, was three months ago. Navalny, Volkov, and the group’s press secretary all say the purpose of the searches was to disrupt this week’s broadcast of “Navalny LIVE” on YouTube, which was scheduled for later in the evening.