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Searches, searches everywhere Law enforcement officials raid Alexey Navalny’s home and offices in Moscow

Source: Meduza

Moscow police raided multiple homes and offices belonging to Alexey Navalny, his family members, and his associates. Officers searched and seized possessions at the opposition figure’s Moscow apartment (where his wife Yulia Navalnaya filmed the front door being broken in), as well as the Anti-Corruption Foundation’s headquarters and the recording studio for the popular YouTube channel “Navalny Live.” The police raids are reportedly in connection with a criminal investigation opened over the violation of sanitary and epidemiological rules during the protest opposing Navalny’s detention in Moscow on January 23.

Update: Moscow’s authorities have jailed opposition figure Lyubov Sobol and Oleg Navalny (Alexey’s brother) until Friday, pending the results of felony investigations into violations of the city’s coronavirus lockdown measures.

The first search was reported at Alexey Navalny’s apartment in Moscow’s Maryino district. According to Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) director Ivan Zhdanov, Navalny’s brother Oleg was inside the apartment when law enforcement officials arrived. The Telegram-based news outlet Baza was the first to report that the searches were taking place in connection with a criminal violation of sanitary and epidemiological rules (article 236 of the Russian Criminal Code). Reportedly, the investigation was launched following the demonstration protesting Navalny’s detention in Moscow on January 23. Zhdanov later confirmed the basis for the searches: “The Interior Ministry is carrying out all the searches within the framework of criminal article 236.” 

Update. Oleg Navalny was taken to a police station following the search of his brother’s apartment.

Law enforcement officials also arrived at the apartment where Navalny’s wife, Yulia Navalnaya, is currently living. The apartment is located near Moscow’s Avtozavodskaya Subway Station, according to Zhdanov. Navalnaya refused to open the door for the police until her lawyer arrived. The officers then proceeded to break down the door, denying her access to a lawyer, reported Dozhd correspondent Mikhail Shevelev. The officers also taped over the peephole on the front door, as well as the apartment’s security cameras.

Law enforcement officers arriving at Yulia Navalnaya’s apartment

In addition, law enforcement officers conducted searches at the FBK office and the “Navalny Live” studio. Opposition figure Lyubov Sobol, Navalny Live’s producer, was inside the studio at the time. Police officials also raided an apartment belonging to the father of Oleg Stepanov, the coordinator of Navalny’s Moscow headquarters. Meanwhile, security forces searched the home of Nikolay Kasyan, the spokesperson for Moscow Municipal Deputy Yulia Galyamina, as well as at the registered addresses of Libertarian Party members Igor Yefremov and Gleb Bykov, and Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina. For yet another search, police officials detained Anastasia Vasilieva, the head of the Navalny-affiliated medical workers’ union “Doctors’ Alliance.”

Police officers arriving at the FBK office
Update. Court bailiffs served Lyubov Sobol a summons for questioning in connection with a criminal case against FBK director Ivan Zhdanov over his failure to delete a video investigation about “Moskovsky Shkolnik” (a catering company, allegedly linked to oligarch Evgeny Prigozhin, that successfully sued Navalny and his associates back in October 2019).

Navalny’s press secretary Kira Yarmysh and FBK investigator Georgy Alburov have both been taken out of jail and brought to their respective homes so police officials can carry out searches (law enforcement are prohibited from conducting a search without the homeowner present). Yarmysh was arrested ahead of last Saturday’s protests and jailed for nine days on charges of inciting an unauthorized rally. Alburov was jailed for 10 days on the same charges.

There are currently no official suspects in the criminal case connected to the searches, an unnamed source told Interfax. Earlier, a source in law enforcement told the state news agency TASS that the case was opened on January 25, due to the fact that people with the coronavirus infection took part in the demonstration in Moscow last Saturday. According to Moscow officials, data from the “Social Monitoring” app confirmed that 19 people with COVID-19 attended the protest.

Police officials were searching for electronic media containing calls to participate in the January 23 demonstrations. This was stated in the search warrant concerning Libertarian Party member Igor Yefremov, obtained by Mediazona. The head of Moscow’s Tverskoy Court issued the warrant on January 27. According to Baza, investigators are planning to conduct more searches in connection with the criminal investigation into the violation of epidemiological rules, including searches targeting all FBK representatives. 

Demonstrations protesting Alexey Navalny’s detention took place in dozens of cities across Russia on January 23. Navaly is currently being held in pre-trial detention on suspicion of violating the terms of his probation in the Yves Rocher case. According to police officials, only 4,000 people attended the demonstration in Moscow last Saturday, though independent estimates range from 15,000 to 40,000 protesters. The independent monitoring group OVD-Info also recorded a record-breaking number of arrests, with more than 1,400 people detained in Moscow and more than 3,700 detained countrywide.

Navalny’s associates are planning more demonstrations protesting his detention for Sunday, January 31. So far, rallies are set to take place in 53 cities across Russia. In Moscow, protesters are expected to gather outside of the FSB headquarters on Lubyanka Square a noon.

Story by Olga Korelina

Translated by Eilish Hart

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