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Labor union leader and former ally denounces Navalny’s top associates on eve of Russian elections

Source: Meduza

Anastasia Vasilyeva, the director of the Doctors’ Alliance labor union and an ophthalmologist who has treated Alexey Navalny directly, says she no longer wishes to be associated with Navalny’s most recognizable political project. In a post on Facebook, the activist accused “the management of the Anti-Corruption Foundation” of exploiting her labor union and then forgetting about the group when they no longer needed it. Meduza has confirmed that Vasilyeva herself wrote the post; no one has hacked her Facebook account.

According to Vasilyeva, the people running Navalny’s foundation “used and abandoned” the Doctors’ Alliance, assisting the union with publicity at the height of the pandemic “but they forgot about us as soon as they no longer needed us”:

I’m very disappointed. The foundation’s managers are now destroying what all of us worked so hard to create. For [Leonid] Volkov, [Ivan] Zhdanov, and [Maria] Pevchikh, power and money turned out to be more important than [our] fate. Now they’re in Europe and a certain someone finds himself in prison. Feel the difference? Anyone who believed in him is now at risk of criminal prosecution. And when they lock these people up, no one will remember them.

Vasilyeva says the Doctors’ Alliance will continue to operate without any connection to the Anti-Corruption Foundation.

Ivan Zhdanov, the foundation’s former director, wrote on Vasilyeva’s Facebook post: “Recently, they’ve turned Anastasia’s life into a real hell.” On Twitter, he also attributed her remarks to political pressure, arguing, “What she wrote, a day before election day, clearly enough shows who’s behind this and why.”

Vasilyeva’s condemnation of Navalny’s top associates comes a day after the team released election endorsements through the Smart Vote initiative, Navalny’s last-standing political project to coordinate Russia’s opposition against United Russia’s monopoly on the State Duma and local legislatures nationwide. Voting begins on Friday, September 17, and ends on Sunday, September 19.

The Doctors’ Alliance was created in 2018 to fight for “fair wages, decent working conditions, and high bonuses and overtime pay for all medical staff in Russia.” In March 2021, Russia’s Justice Ministry designated the labor union as a “foreign agent.”

Anastasia Vasilyeva is currently awaiting a verdict in a controversial criminal investigation against several senior protest figures who allegedly endangered public health by demonstrating earlier this year in support of Navalny’s release from prison. Vasilyeva is the only defendant in the case who is still awaiting a ruling. Moscow’s courts have already convicted seven others, sentencing them to between 12 and 18 months of parole-like restrictions. Additionally, Navalny’s own brother received a one-year parole sentence.