The Russian Justice, the Police, the State as a whole continue to work hard with Alexei Navalni, the main adversary of President Vladimir Putin, who suffered an assassination attempt in August with a powerful toxic substance for military use. Yesterday, a hearing took place to examine the appeal presented by the opposition leader against his 30-day preventive arrest, ordered on the 18th by a judge from the Moscow district of Khimki, and the court decided that the measure was adopted in accordance with the law. It means that Navalni will continue in prison until at least February 15.
The dispute over the appeal was held at the Krasnogorsk Regional Court, outside Moscow, and the opposition leader intervened by videoconference from the Matrósskaya Tishiná prison, where he has been held for a week and a half. Examination of the appeal began with Navalni’s complaint that since his arrival in Russia on January 17, he has not been able to speak with his lawyers.
The response of the judge, Musa Musáyev, to this request was to allow him to speak for only five minutes with the lawyers, but through the glass screen and by telephone. Of course, lawyer Olga Mijáilova assured that this time confidentiality was at least partially preserved, since the security guards left the compound and allowed Navalni to speak privately for those five minutes with his defense lawyers.
The opposition politician stated that, during the hearing on the 18th in Khimki, “several rules of procedure were violated” and concluded that, therefore, his detention is “illegal.” In short, he denounced a “flagrant violation of the laws (…) an arbitrary action”, which, in his opinion, “aims to intimidate me and everyone.” He affirmed in court that “the judges are just obedient slaves of these people who have stolen the country from us, who stole from us for 20 years and who want to silence people like me.”
After Judge Musáyev read the ruling rejecting the defense appeal, he asked Navalni if he understood the decision made. In response, Putin’s adversary declared that “I understood everything even before the hearing began. I knew he would remain in custody until at least mid-February. ‘
The preventive arrest was requested by the Federal Prison Service of Russia (FSIN) because, apparently, Navalni skipped the mandatory periodic inspections to which everyone sentenced to conditional prison is obliged. And he was sentenced to three and a half years for the Yves Rocher case, for alleged fraud and money laundering. The FSIN intends to ensure that the conditional sentence becomes effective and the opposition leader serves it in jail.
All this comes after the police launched dozens of house searches on Wednesday against activists and close associates of Navalni, including his family home, where his wife Julia spent a few hours in isolation without being able to contact lawyers. Several members of his team were also detained. Such were the cases of his brother, Oleg Navalni, of his right hand, Liubov Sóbol, who in recent weeks has repeatedly passed through the police station and received large and hefty fines, from the member of the group “Pussy Riot”, María Aliójina, and by Anastasia Vasílieva, leader of a medical union that collaborates with the Fund to Fight Corruption (FBK) of Navalni. The Police claim to act by order of the health authorities, since they maintain that people infected by the coronavirus participated in the protests.
The Investigation Committee (SK) has also opened a criminal case against one of Navalni’s closest collaborators, Leonid Volkov, who is currently outside Russia and who has been leading the organization of actions at the regional level. According to the SK, Volkov appealed to minors to attend the demonstrations on 23 January. His environment believes that with such a demand what it is about is to dissuade him from setting foot in Russia.
And it is that for next Sunday new marches have been called throughout the country in support of Navalni, in demand that he be released. For this reason, as happened last week, on the eve of Saturday’s day of struggle, the security forces have intensified repressive actions to try to demobilize and intimidate those who intend to attend.
On Saturday almost 4,000 arrests were made throughout the country and, according to the Russian Interior Ministry admits, in Moscow alone, 250 criminal and administrative cases have been opened for various violations of public order such as attacks on policemen, roadblocks or involving minors in protests. Heavy fines have also been announced to social networks that incited minors to participate in the mobilizations.