Russia increases arrests of opponents ahead of protests for Navalny

Mr. Navalny’s team, detained until at least February 15 and targeted by multiple legal proceedings, called for protests on Saturday in 65 Russian cities to demand the release of the main enemy of the Kremlin, “illegal” gatherings according to the authorities.

After having arrested several collaborators of Mr. Navalny on Thursday, the police continued the arrests on Friday with the coordinator of the head office of the opponent in Vladivostok in the Far East, Ekaterina Vedernikova, and a collaborator of the headquarters of Novosibirsk, in Siberia, Elena Noskovets.

The opponent’s team also reported the arrest of the coordinator from Tyumen, in the Urals, of another collaborator in the Kaliningrad enclave, and of Sergei Boyko, including the coalition in Novosibirsk, in Siberia, challenged the Kremlin party in regional elections in September.

Arrested Thursday, a rising figure of the movement, Lioubov Sobol, and the spokesperson for Mr. Navalny, Kira Iarmych, must appear for their part Friday before judges for having called for demonstrations classified as illegal.

Ms. Iarmych’s lawyer, Veronika Poliakova, told . that her client faced 10 days in detention. Lioubov Sobol for his part faces 30 days in prison but could suffer, as in previous arrests, a simple fine because she has a small child.

Among the other supporters of Mr. Navalny in the crosshairs of the police, Georgui Albourov, who participates in the anti-corruption investigations of the opponent, and Vladlen Los, a lawyer of his organization, of Belarusian nationality, declared persona non grata in Russia.

The head of Mr. Navalny’s team in Krasnodar, southern Russia, Anastassia Pantchenko, was also arrested on Thursday.

Warnings and supports

Faced with the mobilization scheduled for Saturday, the Kremlin, the Prosecutor’s Office and the Ministry of the Interior have warned against participating in these rallies, suggesting a possible brutal dispersion of the demonstrators.

Russian telecommunications gendarme Roskomnadzor threatened social networks with fines if they did not remove calls for demonstrations, and in particular warned the Tik Tok and Vkontakte platforms, the Russian equivalent of Facebook.

The media have also reported warnings from universities and schools to discourage students from protesting or encourage parents to “protect their children.”

In recent days, thousands of videos and messages of support for the opponent have been circulating on Tik Tok, a platform particularly popular with teenagers, including calls to protest, advice not to be arrested by the police or users to filming replacing the portrait of Vladimir Putin with that of Alexey Navalny in their classroom.

The boss of the international Russian state television channel RT, Margarita Simonyan accused “Chinese-owned Tik Tok of trying to orchestrate a war between children in Russia.” She estimated that the company had the means to censor this content “in two minutes”.

Mr. Navalny has also received the support of actors, musicians and athletes, including figures usually removed from politics such as the former captain of the Russian football team, Igor Denisov, or the star. from the song Monetotchka, very popular with young people.

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.

Friday morning, this long investigation accompanied by a video of nearly two hours had already been seen more than 53 million times on YouTube, a record for an investigation by Mr. Navalny.

The opponent was arrested on January 17, on his return from five months of convalescence in Germany after suspected poisoning, of which he accused the Kremlin. Moscow rejects these allegations.

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