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22 Jan, 2021 01:30

Several of Navalny’s top associates detained in Russia for organizing unauthorized protests ahead of promised weekend rallies

Several of Navalny’s top associates detained in Russia for organizing unauthorized protests ahead of promised weekend rallies

A group of close associates of the Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny, including activist Lyubov Sobol and his spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh have been detained in Moscow ahead of illegal protests announced for this weekend.

All of the detained work for Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK). Sobol, the organization’s legal advisor, was detained as she was travelling in a car with her own lawyer, Vladimir Voronin, who wrote about the incident on social media.

According to Voronin, the activist spent several hours at a police station where she was charged with repeated violation of rally organization rules. That is a misdemeanor offense punishable by a fine, community service, or up to 15 days in jail.

Also on rt.com Alexey Navalny remanded in custody for 30 days after unexpected hearing in police station one day after arriving back in Russia

Sobol herself tweeted she was home by nightfall, calling the law enforcement action a “travesty of justice” aimed at “intimidating” her and her colleagues. She didn't mention that mass gatherings are banned in most Russian cities due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Moscow police also detained Navalny’s representative Kira Yarmysh, FBK employee Georgy Alburov and another FBK lawyer Vladlen Los, a Belarusian citizen,

Alburov also said on Twitter that he was charged with violation of rally organization rules. Los, meanwhile, said in a series of posts that he was charged with resisting the demands of a law enforcement officer and was ordered to leave Russia before January 25, along with a ban of entering the country's territory for two and a half years.

Russian police have not commented on the detentions so far. The arrests were made ahead of marches that are being arranged by Navalny’s supporters. The opposition figure was arrested on January 17 upon his return to Russia from Germany, where he spent almost five months while being treated for alleged 'novichok' poisoning.

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Navalny, who has since been jailed for 30 days, currently faces charges stemming from violating the terms of his probation related to a previous criminal case. Russian officials say he cut all contacts with the prison service as he lived in Germany following his recovery, breaking the terms of a three-and-a-half-year suspended sentence he had been handed after being found guilty of embezzling 30 million rubles ($400,000) from two companies, including the French cosmetics firm Yves Rocher.

His supporters, however, maintain that the case against him is politically motivated and have called on people to take to the streets to demand his “immediate” release. The authorities say such rallies would be illegal under the existing regulations.

Moscow has demanded that the popular video-sharing app TikTok stop distributing videos that encourage minors to participate in such protests. Detentions of Navalny’s associates might also be related to them sharing similar calls on social media. Sobol and Yarmysh in particular posted short video clips calling on their supporters to hit the streets on Saturday.

Also on rt.com Russian state regulator Roskomnadzor asks TikTok to remove videos encouraging attendees at unsanctioned protests this weekend

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