The operation is large and is being carried out by one of the elite organs of the Russian police, the Department for Combating Economic Crimes and Corruption. Since August 17, every evening, its agents ring the doors of Moscow residents identified as supporters of the opponent Alexeï Navalny, and offer them a “Discussion”. Rigor is required, and it is quite natural for this department created in 1937 by the NKVD: for the time being, evening visitors are only at names beginning with an “A”.

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At their disposal, the agents have several lists: those of citizens identified as having participated in the pro-Navalny demonstrations of the winter, others registered on the Freedom for Navalny website, and still others having in the past given of money to its Anti-Corruption Fund (FBK). This data was hacked in April. They have already made it possible to lay off overnight, under false pretenses, dozens of employees of the capital’s metro.

According to the testimonies collected, the tone of the “discussion” varies, honeyed or threatening. It is as much a question of intimidating the recalcitrant as of collecting testimonies in the last criminal case opened against Mr. Navalny, in August – for “attacking the identity and the rights of citizens”, a rather mysterious article more readily used against sects.

How many agents mobilized for this work, for this opponent already imprisoned and described as insignificant? It doesn’t matter, it seems: the annihilation of Camp Navalny has been the great work of Russian power for a year. It began with an attempted murder, a poisoning that plunged Mr. Navalny into a coma for three weeks, on August 20, 2020, while he was on a plane of a Russian company, for a domestic flight, under FSB surveillance, security services. European laboratories have concluded that the poison used was a neurotoxic military product of the Novichok family, already used in the attempted assassination of ex-double agent Sergei Skripal in the United Kingdom.

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Alexeï Navalny, treated in Germany, survived. During his recovery, he helped confuse the poisoners (the FSB) and their method (poison on his underpants). More seriously, he took the challenge to return to Russia with an investigation into Vladimir Putin’s palace on the Black Sea in his luggage, prompting the Russian authorities to imprison him upon his return on January 17. A conviction was pronounced on the ground that the opponent had violated, during his convalescence, the conditions of a judicial review.

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