On Thursday, November 5, court marshals carried out searches at the Moscow office of opposition figure Alexey Navalny’s non-profit, the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), and the studio for his YouTube channel Navalny LIVE.
FBK director Ivan Zhdanov reported the search at the non-profit’s Moscow office on Twitter. FBK lawyer Lyubov Sobol recorded videos during the search of the Navalny Live studio, where court marshals seized a server used for live broadcasts.
According to Zhdanov, the court marshals arrived with a search warrant in connection with enforcement proceedings for a sum of 29 million rubles (about $374,250). Presumably, this is related to the 88-million-ruble (about $1.2-million) debt the FBK owes Kremlin-linked billionaire Evgeny Prigozhin (he purchased the civil-suit debt from the company “Moskovsky Shkolnik” in August 2020). Navalny’s Moscow apartment was seized and his bank accounts were frozen in connection with this case back in September.
The Federal Bailiffs Service later stated that a criminal case had been opened against FBK director Ivan Zhdanov for failure to comply with a court ruling.
Navalny stated that this new wave of pressure on the FBK was “the only legal consequence” to emerge after his poisoning in August. He also published photos taken at the FBK’s office and the Navalny LIVE studio on Twitter. In one of the photos, an employee from the Emergencies Ministry can be seen holding a sledgehammer.
Last year, law enforcement officials raided the FBK in connection with a criminal case for money laundering. Russia’s Investigative Committee announced the case in the midst of mass protests in August 2019. Law enforcement officers carried out multiple searches at Navalny’s offices across the country and froze bank accounts belonging to the foundation and several of its staff members.
In early 2019, the FBK published an investigative report stating that Kremlin-linked catering magnate Evgeny Prigozhin owns “Moskovsky Shkolnik” (he denies this) and accused the company of spreading dysentery in Moscow kindergartens and schools in December 2018.
Moskovsky Shkolnik sued Navalny, Sobol, and FBK in civil court for 500 million rubles ($6.5 million) in damages to its business reputation. In October 2019, a court awarded the company roughly 88 million rubles. The ruling was so massive that Navalny announced in July 2020 that FBK would be forced to liquidate and reopen as a new legal entity called the Rights’ Defense Foundation.
In August 2020, Evgeny Prigozhin acquired the rights to the 88-million-ruble debt awarded to Moskovsky Shkolnik. According to a statement by the Prigozhin-affiliated “Concord” catering company, Prigozhin bought the debt with the intention of “reducing this group of dishonest people to pennilessness and shoelessness.”