Russian court arrests Navalny’s chief of staff in absentia
On Wednesday, February 10, Moscow’s Basmanny District Court arrested in absentia Leonid Volkov, the chief of staff to imprisoned opposition politician Alexey Navalny.
According to spokespeople for the Basmanny District Court, Volkov — who is currently abroad — has been added to an interstate wanted list on felony charges of involving minors in unauthorized protests (under article 151.2, section 2 of the Russian Criminal Code, this is punishable by up to three years imprisonment).
“In connection with the inter-state wanted notice for [Leonid] Volkov, the investigator asks to take a preventive measure against Volkov in the form of two months detention from the moment of his arrest on the territory of the Russian Federation, or from the moment of his extradition to the territory of the Russian Federation.”
In a comment to RBC, Volkov himself said the following: “This is a made-up, non-existent case. This is a PR campaign from the Investigative Committee. I absolutely don’t care.”
Update. According to the Associated Press, the Lithuanian authorities have refused to carry out Russia’s order to arrest Leonid Volkov. “Using international tools for politically motivated prosecution is a wrong practice,“ Lithuanian Interior minister Agne Bilotaite said. Volkov, who is currently in Lithuania, has lived abroad since 2019.
State investigators opened a criminal case against Leonid Volkov on January 28, on the grounds that he urged teenagers to take part in the unauthorized “Freedom for Navalny!” protests that took place across Russia on January 23.
Pro-Navalny rallies took place in more than 100 Russian cities on January 23 and 31. Demonstrators also took to the streets after a Moscow court sentenced the opposition politician to nearly three years in prison on February 2. The authorities detained more than 10,000 people amid the protests, many of whom were sentenced to fines or jail time. Police officials also launched 50 criminal cases in connection with the demonstrations, on charges of hooliganism, violence against police officers, and violating sanitary regulations.
On February 9, Leonid Volkov announced plans to conduct a new type of protest action on Sundary, February 14.