Knock, knock In late-night visits, officials in Moscow show up at the homes of dozens of Navalny supporters identified in data leaks and ask them to file police reports
Late on August 17, police officers across Moscow visited dozens of Alexey Navalny’s former supporters whose personal information has leaked online in recent months. According to the human rights project OVD-Info, at least 170 people have heard from the authorities in the past 24 hours. Officials are reportedly singling out those who either registered with Navalny’s team for protests in April, signed up for Navalny’s “Smart Vote” strategic voting platform, or donated money at some point to the Anti-Corruption Foundation. Hackers previously stole and released these people’s personal data, and the police are now asking victims to press charges against Navalny’s team for mishandling their information. Meduza special correspondent Kristina Safonova spoke to several of the people visited by the authorities.
Officers pounded on apartment doors close to midnight on Tuesday, demanding to speak with such and such persons allegedly linked to one of Alexey Navalny’s “extremist” organizations. “Who lives with you? What’s your relationship to Alexey Navalny? Would you like to file a police report about the leaking of your personal data?” Officers came to the homes of people who donated to one of Navalny’s groups or signed up for his “Smart Vote” initiative, but they also found individuals who merely subscribed to his newsletter.
Sometimes, the police frightened sleeping children, while other visits to people not at home startled parents and neighbors. “Are you aware that your daughter is a member of FBK?” one officer told the parents of a woman who now lives abroad, referring to the now-outlawed Anti-Corruption Foundation.
Many of the people who found themselves face to face with the police last night have received threatening emails in recent months, warning them that they’d been identified in one of the data leaks targeting Navalny’s supporter base and soon their employers would know, too. Navalny’s campaign team assured the public that the attackers had only acquired and released email addresses without any names. The worst hackers could do was bombard people with spam, said Navalny’s tech specialists. In the months that followed, however, employers started receiving tips about their employees’ support for Navalny and his “criminal” organizations. Then, on August 16, an “enriched database” appeared, revealing the names and home addresses of thousands of people who registered for Smart Vote.
Responding to the data leaks and the Moscow authorities’ coordinated efforts to collect police reports, campaign leader Leonid Volkov argued again on Facebook that Team Navalny never stored supporters’ personal information. Volkov repeated allegations against Fyodor Gorozhanko, accusing the St. Petersburg activist of betraying the Navalny movement and helping to leak Anti-Corruption Foundation supporters’ personal information. Volkov also says the leaked email addresses were “enriched” (adding people’s full names and addresses) by linking them to government databases.
The Moscow police department’s intimidation of individuals identified and located through these leaked records, says Volkov, constitutes a “terrorist act.”
Summary by Kevin Rothrock