Correction: This article has been edited to reflect the fact that documents released by the official press service of the courts of St. Petersburg were, in fact, falsified.
St. Petersburg authorities brought an administrative lawsuit against the organizers of the “He’s Not Our Tsar” protest that took place in May 2018. Today, a petition ostensibly written by the opposition politician Alexey Navalny asked for Navalny himself to be listed as one of the lawsuit’s defendants.
The original defendants in the case are Denis Mikhailov, the coordinator of Navalny’s local headquarters in St. Petersburg, and Bogdan Litvin, the press secretary of the “Vesna” (“Spring”) reform movement. Prosecutors said the “He’s Not Our Tsar” protest caused 11 million rubles (almost $170,000) in damage to the city’s landscaping and greenery.
The petition submitted in Navalny’s name claimed that he initiated the protest on a nationwide level and that Mikhailov was following his orders. It argued, “My political movement is based on the principle of ‘one for all and all for one.’ When the Putin regime puts pressure on one of my subordinates […] I can’t stay on the sidelines, and I am prepared to take the cost of any damage done upon myself.”
Kira Yarmysh, the press secretary of the Navanly-led Anti-Corruption Foundation, told Meduza that Navalny was not the author of the petition. “The petition is obviously falsified,” Yarmysh said. When asked who might be behind the fake document, she responded that operatives with ties to St. Petersburg’s governor, Alexander Beglov, may be attempting to detract attention from an upcoming meeting between Navalny and the city’s residents.