State investigators requalify criminal charges against Navalny’s associates
The Russian Investigative Committee has requalified the charges in the “sanitary case” that was launched against ten of Alexey Navalny’s associates following the protest in support of the jailed opposition politician in Moscow on January 23. This was reported by lawyer Vladimir Voronin, who’s representing the interests of opposition figure Lyubov Sobol.
The suspects in the case are Doctors’ Alliance Chairwoman Anastasia Vasilieva, Pussy Riot activist Maria Alyokhina, Navalny’s brother Oleg Navalny, Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) employee Lyubov Sobol, Navalny staffers Oleg Stepanov and Nikolay Lyaskin, Navalny’s spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh, and municipal deputies Lyusya Shtein and Dmitry Baranovsky. They have all been under house arrest since late January.
The case, which was initially opened on charges of violating sanitary and epidemiological rules amid the coronavirus pandemic, has been requalified as “incitement” to commit this crime. “That is, all ten suspects allegedly incited an indeterminate circle of people to go out to the streets and pose a threat,” Voronin said during a press conference broadcast by the outlet SotaVision on Wednesday, March 17.
The lawyer noted that state investigators have yet to establish any specific individuals who were supposedly incited by the suspects to violate coronavirus-related restrictions.
Voronin added that there have been no investigative actions since detectives launched the case in January, and the defense was only notified of expert examinations in mid-March. According to the lawyer, the criminal case was opened for the sole purpose of “isolating people [the suspects] in their apartments for a maximum period of time and not allowing them to communicate with anyone.”
After the pro-Navalny rally in Moscow on January 23, police officials launched a criminal case against ten of his associates for allegedly violating sanitary and epidemiological restrictions. The case was later handed over to the Investigative Committee. The suspects in the case have been under house arrest since late January.
According to the Moscow authorities, 19 people with the coronavirus took part in the January 23rd rally, thus creating a threat of mass infection.