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Moscow court sentences labor union leader to one year of non-custodial restraint for her role in January’s Navalny protests

A Moscow court has sentenced Anastasia Vasilyeva, the head of the Doctors’ Alliance labor union and sometimes Alexey Navalny’s personal ophthalmologist, to one year of non-custodial restraint for violating Russia’s pandemic restrictions on public assemblies by calling on people to attend unpermitted protests in January 2021 demanding freedom for Navalny. 

For the next year, Vasilyeva is prohibited from being away from her home between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., from leaving Moscow, and from attending any public demonstrations. Twice a month, she’s also required to report to a parole officer. The sentence is eight months shorter than what state prosecutors requested.

Vasilyeva maintains her innocence, and her lawyers say she plans to appeal the ruling.

Anastasia Vasilyeva is just one of several prominent figures with ties to Alexey Navalny who have ended up in court for promoting Moscow’s January 2021 protests. Judges have also handed down sentences of non-custodial restraint to Navalny’s former Moscow coordinator Oleg Stepanov, Lyubov Sobol, Navalny’s brother Oleg, Navalny’s press secretary Kira Yarmysh, Nikolai Lyaskin, municipal deputy Dmitry Baranovsky, and Pussy Riot members Maria Alekhina and Lyusya Stein.

In mid-September 2021, Vasilyeva accused Navalny’s top associates of exploiting her labor union and then forgetting about the group when they no longer needed it. “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,” Vasilyeva wrote on Facebook, prompting speculation from Navalny’s team that the Russian authorities pressured her to denounce them.

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