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After the raids State investigators arrest Navalny’s associates as suspects in a criminal case

Source: Meduza
Sergey Ilnitsky / EPA / Scanpix / LETA

After raiding the homes and offices of Alexey Navalny’s closest associates on Wednesday, January 27, Moscow law enforcement made a number of arrests during the night. Opposition figure Lyubov Sobol, who works for Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), has been placed in custody for 48 hours, along with Navalny’s brother Oleg, and Doctors’ Alliance director Anastasia Vasilieva. Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina has also been detained. All of the detainees are considered suspects in an ongoing investigation into the criminal violation of sanitary and epidemiological rules during the protests opposing Navalny’s detention in Moscow on January 23.

Following police raids on Wednesday, January 27, investigators arrested FBK employee Lyubov Sobol, Oleg Navalny, and Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina. All three are now suspects in a criminal case launched over alleged violations of sanitary and epidemiological rules. They are currently in custody at a temporary detention center, where they are set to remain for 48 hours. Following the arrests, Leonid Volkov, the head of Navalny’s regional network, speculated that the authorities are trying to turn Oleg Navalny into a “hostage” prior to his brother’s appeals hearing on January 28 (Oleg was previously convicted in the Yves Rocher case, as well). According to human rights lawyer Sergey Badamshin from Pravozashchita Otkrytki, it’s “impossible to detain” someone under the article for violating sanitary and epidemiological norms, if it’s their first offense.

Update. State investigators have launched a criminal case against Leonid Volkov on charges of “inciting minors to commit illegal actions via the Internet.”

Investigators also arrested Anastasia Vasilieva, the head of the Navalny-affiliated medical workers’ union “Doctors’ Alliance,” and placed her in custody for 48 hours. According to OVD-Info, Vasilieva is believed to be at the temporary detention center on Petrovka Street in Moscow. Her lawyer, Dmitry Dzhulay, said that Vasilieva is also a suspect in the criminal case over alleged violations of sanitary and epidemiological rules (however, as of last night she was considered a witness in the case). Prior to her arrest, law enforcement officers searched Vasilieva’s home — she continued to play the piano as they read her the search warrant. Initially, the investigator sent to arrest Vasilieva accidentally phoned Dzhulay (instead of her superiors). The lawyer said that he “gave instructions to leave and go to the base” (there’s a recording of the conversation available here). By all appearances, as a result, both the investigator and the police left; they came back around 3:00 a.m. on January 28 and, according to Vasilieva, “nearly broke down the door” to her apartment. 

Anastasia Vasilieva playing the piano as an investigator reads the warrant to search her apartment

Also on Wednesday, investigators detained Navalny’s aide Ilya Pakhomov, who was at the opposition figure’s apartment. Pakhomov has been charged with an administrative offense for allegedly disobeying police officers when he came to meet Navalny at the airport on January 17. According to the head of the FBK’s legal department, Vyacheslav Gimadi, Pakhomov was written up “for sitting in an airport cafe and waiting for Alexey.” Pakhomov was held at the Vnukovo Police Station until his trial on January 28. The coordinator of Team Navalny’s Yekaterinburg headquarters, Alexey Gresko, was also charged with the same administrative offense. He is currently in custody at a special detention center. Gresko went to Vnukovo Airport on January 17 to meet his son.

All total, investigators carried out at least 18 raids on January 27, reports Mediazona. In Moscow, they searched apartments belonging to Alexey Navalny and his wife Yulia Navalnaya, Lyubov Sobol, Maria Alyokhina, Anastasia Vasilieva, municipal deputy Lyusya Shteyn, and Navalny’s spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh (who was taken out of jail to attend the search), as well as the home of Mediazona editor-in-chief Sergey Smirnov, who lives with his mother. Investigators also showed up at the home of Ekho Moskvy host Tatyana Felgenhauer’s parents, but they didn’t answer the door. The investigative actions began around 3:50 p.m. on January 27 and continued until 3:00 a.m. on January 28 — the final late-night search was conducted at the home of Libertarian Party member Igor Yefremov. 

In all likelihood, there are more searches to come. According to MBX Media, Moscow’s courts of general jurisdiction issued 28 search and seizure warrants between January 25 and January 27. What’s more, lawyer Sergey Badamshin published a copy of a document from Lyubov Sobol’s interrogation, revealing that the investigator had listed the names of 37 people (pictured below). Badamshin called them an “at-risk group.” Among others, the list included theater director Ivan Vyrypaev, writer Dmitry Glukhovsky, Mediazona publisher Pyotr Verzilov, actress Tatyana Lazareva, Pussy Riot member Nadya Tolokonnikova, and music critic Artemy Troitsky. 

“The at-risk group”

During an appeals hearing on January 28, the Moscow Regional Court refused to release Alexey Navalny from pre-trial detention (you can read the statement he made in court here). Despite the crackdown following last weekend’s opposition protests, Navalny’s associates are planning to hold more rallies opposing his detention for Sunday, January 31. 

Update. On Thursday evening, law enforcement officers searched the registered address of Moscow municipal deputy Konstantin Yankauskas (an apartment where his elderly parents live). Meanwhile, officers from the Anti-Extremism Center (Center E) showed up at the home of Team Navalny manager Anastasia Kadetova. In Nizhny Novgorod, the coordinator for Navalny’s local headquarters, Roman Tregubov, was detained for questioning. Also on Thursday evening, a Moscow court sentenced FBK lawyer Alexey Molokoedov to five days in jail for disobeying police.

Story by Alexander Baklanov

Translation by Eilish Hart

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