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Police arrest Navalny’s associates in Moscow ahead of planned opposition rallies

Source: Meduza

Following widespread reports of police officers issuing warnings to opposition figures and activists across Russia, law enforcement officials in Moscow have arrested several of Alexey Navalny’s closest associates. This comes ahead of countrywide protests opposing his detention planned for Saturday, January 23. On the evening of January 21, police detained the opposition figure’s press secretary, Kira Yarmysh, as well as Anti-Corruption Foundation employees Lyubov Sobol, Georgy Alburov, and Vladlen Los. Similar arrests have also been reported in three other cities so far.

On the evening of Thursday, January 21, police in Moscow arrested several employees of Alexey Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK). Georgy Alburov, who works for the FBK’s investigative department, was arrested at Moscow’s Leningradsky Railway Station and taken to a police station in the Krasnoselsky District. Police officers also arrived at the home of Navalny’s press secretary Kira Yarmysh — she remained inside her apartment for more than an hour, refusing to open the door to the police, who threatened to write her up for an administrative violation. Yarmysh was arrested after her lawyer arrived on the scene. Police officers then proceeded to inspect her apartment. According to the state news agency TASS, Alburov and Yarmysh were detained for inciting unauthorized protests.

“They’re looking for someone in my apartment. They went in, looked around. They opened the closet!!” 
Kira Yarmysh

Earlier in the day on Thursday, two lawyers working for the FBK were also arrested — Lyubov Sobol and Vladlen Los. Sobol was taken to a Moscow police station to be written up for inciting protests. Vladlen Los, a Belarusian national, was ordered to leave the country by January 25 and slapped with a 2.5-year entry ban to keep him from returning to Russia. In addition, Mansur Gilmanov, a lawyer from the human rights organization “Apologia Protesta,” was attacked at the Danilovsky Police Station when he tried to visit Los in custody. 

“A police officer attacked Mansur, he knocked him down, put him face down on the floor, and kicked him in the back several times.”
Apologia Protesta

Police officers also came looking for Oleg Stepanov — the coordinator of Team Navalny’s Moscow office, — but he wasn’t home. According to Stepanov, journalist Elizaveta Nesterova was the only one inside the apartment at the time. Prior to the police visit, Stepanov’s home lost power; he has since appealed to the Interior Ministry to turn his electricity back on. At the time of this writing, Nesterova claims that the police are still waiting for Stepanov, who remains “safely hidden.”

“Police officers came to my place of residence. An hour ago they turned off the lights, only [Elizaveta Nesterova] and the cats are home. I’m not there.”
Oleg Stepanov

On January 20 and 21, police officers across Russia visited the homes of Navalny’s supporters, FBK employees, and journalists. They issued warnings from state prosecutors affirming the illegality of the rallies calling for Navalny’s release scheduled for January 23. According to municipal prosecutors in Moscow, warnings were issued to 28 people in the Russian capital alone.

Arrests are also taking place in other Russian cities. For example, law enforcement officials in Krasnodar arrested Anastasia Panchenko, the coordinator of Navalny’s local team office. In the town of Lebedyan (Lipetsk region), police officers arrested 50-year-old Galina Grebennikova, who was planning to attend an upcoming rally in support of Navalny. A volunteer from Team Navalny’s local headquarters in Kaliningrad was detained, as well.

Story by Alexander Baklanov

Translation by Eilish Hart

Cover photo: Semyon Kats for “Meduza”

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