Monday, March 1

Russian police arrest Navalny allies ahead of weekend of protests

Alexei Navalny’s team called on their supporters to “go out in the street“Saturday in 65 cities of Russia to demand the release of their leader, detained since his return Sunday in his country after months of convalescence in Germany for an alleged poisoning.

In the wake of official warnings issued in recent days to discourage protest, Russian police on Thursday arrested Lioubov Sobol, a rising opposition figure close to Mr. Navalny.

She was arrested for calling for unauthorized demonstrations“, his lawyer, Vladimir Voronin, told AFP.

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The spokesperson for the opponent, Kira Iarmych, was also arrested Thursday evening, after a search of her Moscow home, she said on Twitter.

Another important collaborator of Mr. Navalny, Georgi Albourov, also announced on Twitter that he had been arrested, for his part at a station in the Russian capital.

Of Belarusian nationality, Vladlen Los, a lawyer for the opponent’s anti-corruption organization, told him that he had been arrested and had been ordered to leave Russia.

Navalny’s team in Krasnodar (southwest) also indicated that its manager, Anastassia Pantchenko, had also been arrested.

Faced with the mobilization scheduled for Saturday, the prosecution announced measures to “limit access to illegal information“disseminated online and constituting”calls to participate in illegal mass actions“.

For its part, the Interior Ministry said it was ready to “protect public order“and promised to prosecute the authors of calls to protest on the internet.

The day before, Russian telecommunications gendarme Roskomnadzor issued a warning to the Tik Tok and Vkontakte platforms, the Russian equivalent of Facebook, ordering them to block content considered to be calls to “minors to participate in illegal activities“.

On Thursday, Roskomnadzor also threatened with fines of up to four million rubles (44,600 euros) internet platforms that will not remove “prohibited information“.

– “Putin’s Palace” –

After his arrest on Sunday, Alexeï Navalny retaliated on Tuesday by broadcasting an investigation into the huge and sumptuous property he claims to enjoy by President Vladimir Putin, on the shores of the Black Sea, and whose construction would have cost more than a billion dollars. ‘euros.

Thursday evening, this long investigation accompanied by a video of nearly two hours had already been seen more than 47 million times on YouTube.

The Kremlin rejected all of these allegations, denouncing a “attack“against Mr. Putin and calling it”crooks“Mr. Navalny’s team members.

This video fueled thousands of social media posts relaying the call to demonstrate for the opponent’s release.

Youth are particularly mobilized on Tik Tok, while several personalities including actors, musicians and athletes have announced their support for Alexeï Navalny.

The former captain of the Russian football team, Igor Denissov, usually not very interested in politics, judges as well as the opponent, for whom he has a “grand respect“, “must be released“.

The very popular Russian YouTuber Yuriy Doud denounced a situation “scandalous“in a publication displaying more than 835,000”I like“on Instagram.

Mr. Navalny’s team also told AFP on Thursday that they had received nearly 10 million rubles (112,000 euros) in donations.

Alexei Navalny, whose release is demanded by the EU and the United States, was arrested on his return from several months of convalescence after alleged poisoning he suffered in August in Siberia.

He accuses the Kremlin of being responsible, which Moscow denies, seeing no evidence and denouncing a plot involving the West.

The opponent, detained at least until February 15, is targeted by several cases for “defamation“, “frauds“or for violating the conditions of a suspended prison sentence dating from 2014.

The interested party considers that these accusations are a matter of judicial harassment and have a political character.



Frédéric Filloux.By Frédéric Filloux

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