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Russia arrests allies of jailed opposition chief Navalny

MOSCOW (AP) – A number of allies and supporters of Russian opposition chief Alexei Navalny have been arrested in Moscow early Thursday after mass protests final Saturday demanding his launch from jail drew tens of 1000’s of individuals to the streets of greater than 100 Russian cities.

Navalny’s major ally Lyubov Sobol, Dr Anastasia Vasilyeva of the Alliance of Docs union backed by Navalny and Maria Alyokhina of the punk collective Pussy Riot have been detained for 48 hours with Navalny’s brother, Oleg.

All 4 are stated to be suspected in a legal investigation into alleged coronavirus regulatory violations in the course of the mass rally in Moscow. The raids got here 4 days earlier than new protests Navalny supporters referred to as Sunday.

Navalny, 44, the best-known critic of President Vladimir Putin’s authorities, was arrested on January 17 upon his return from Germany, the place he spent 5 months recovering from nerve poisoning he attributes within the Kremlin. Russian authorities have dismissed the fees.

The nightly detentions of his supporters got here after greater than a dozen raids on the flats and places of work of Navalny’s household, associates and supporters in reference to the investigation. The areas searched included Navalny’s condominium, the place police detained his brother, and a rented condominium the place Navalny’s spouse, Yulia, lived.

Additionally on Thursday, the Russian investigative committee stated it had opened a legal investigation in opposition to Navalny’s high strategist Leonid Volkov, accusing him of encouraging minors to take part in unauthorized gatherings.

In one other problem to Putin, two days after Navalny’s arrest, his group launched a full video report on a lavish seaside resort allegedly constructed for Putin. It has been considered over 98 million instances, additional fueling the discontent.

Protests calling for Navalny’s launch occurred in additional than 100 cities throughout the nation final Saturday, a robust manifestation of rising anger on the Kremlin. Almost 4,000 individuals have been reportedly arrested in the course of the protests.

Navalny fell right into a coma whereas on a home flight from Siberia to Moscow on August 20. He was transferred from a hospital in Siberia to a hospital in Berlin two days later. Laboratories in Germany, France and Sweden, and assessments by the Group for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, established that he had been uncovered to the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok.

Russian authorities have refused to open a full legal investigation, citing the dearth of proof that Navalny was poisoned.

Navalny’s arrest and harsh police actions in the course of the protests have drawn robust criticism from the West and requires his launch.

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