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Russian police search apartment of key Navalny ally Volkov’s parents after he’s charged with violating protest rules

Russian police search apartment of key Navalny ally Volkov’s parents after he’s charged with violating protest rules
On Friday, Russian police officers conducted a search of an apartment owned by the parents of Leonid Volkov, a close associate of opposition figure Alexey Navalny. Volkov is wanted by the authorities, but now lives in Lithuania.

According to Susanna Volkova, Leonid’s mother, three “polite and restrained” law enforcement officers arrived at her apartment at 6.30am local time, supposedly on the grounds of their son’s charges. A case has been opened against Volkov for violating sanitary rules regarding Covid-19, after he played a leading role in promoting the January 23 protests in support of anti-corruption activist Navalny.

Volkov, who grew up in the city of Ekaterinburg, about 1,000km east of Moscow, now lives in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius.

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“He hasn’t lived here for 21 years, and he hasn’t registered here for about 10 years,” Volkova told the Novaya Gazeta newspaper. “He hasn’t lived in Ekaterinburg for many years.”

Writing on Telegram, Volkov explained that the local police had told his parents they were acting on an order from Moscow.

“What did they want to find, at least theoretically?” he asked. “A plan to infect Moscow with the coronavirus in my high-school notebook? Pretty nauseating, to tell you the truth.”

Volkov is a long-time ally of Navalny and previously served as the chief of staff for his 2018 presidential campaign, when the authorities refused to register Navalny as a candidate due to a previous conviction. Nowadays, he runs Navalny’s regional headquarters network.

As well as being accused of breaking sanitary rules, Volkov was charged in absentia by Russia’s Investigative Committee for allegedly encouraging teenagers to participate in illegal rallies. If found guilty, he could be handed a sentence of two years behind bars.

Yesterday, Volkov announced that there would be no more protests in support of Navalny until later this year. Instead, he revealed that the next rallies would be held in spring and summer, ahead of the national elections to the State Duma, the country’s parliament.

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