RFE/RL: The Anti-Corruption Foundation of Aleksei Navalny issued a fresh investigation on January 19, shining a spotlight on a Black Sea mansion allegedly built for Russian President Vladimir Putin, one day after the opposition leader and Kremlin critic was ordered to remain in custody for 30 days pending trial following his dramatic return to Russia from Germany. The investigation — A Palace For Putin — alleges the luxurious estate on the Black Sea’s exclusive Gelendzhik Bay cost at least 100 billion rubles ($1.35 billion). The report says the site includes a church, a 2,500-square-meter greenhouse, an amphitheater, several residential buildings, and a “special tunnel” that leads to the shore.
RFE/RL: Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny has been placed in a cell in Moscow’s notorious Matrosskaya Tishina detention center after a judge at a hastily arranged hearing ruled to keep the Kremlin critic in custody for 30 days following his dramatic airport arrest upon arrival from Germany. The Kremlin said on January 19 that it was unfazed by mounting international pressure over the arrest of the 44-year-old, who was detained at the Sheremetyevo International Airport’s passport-control booth after he arrived from Berlin late on January 17, where he had been recovering from a poison attack in August that Navalny says was ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Meduza: Yulia Navalnaya, the wife of jailed Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny, says she’s being followed by the police. She stated this in a Instagram post that included a photo of a vehicle (pictured below), which, according to Navalnaya, has been parked near her home for the past day. That car has been parked near my house for a day already — it’s operational police officers keeping an eye on me. Well, it’s no surprise — yesterday we saw that they’ve started holding mobile “troika” hearings, now they are persecuting me as the wife of an enemy of the people. The Year of ’37 has come and we didn’t notice.
The Moscow Times: The Kremlin on Tuesday dismissed Western demands to release Russia’s most prominent opposition leader Alexei Navalny, saying his calls for mass protests over his arrest were “troubling”. Legal pressure is ramping up against President Vladimir Putin’s best-known domestic critic, who is due in court on defamation charges on Wednesday, as his allies in Russia call for protests in Moscow this weekend. Navalny, 44, was arrested on Sunday as he returned to Russia from Germany for the first time since he recovered from a near-fatal poisoning with the Soviet-designed Novichok nerve agent in August.
Meduza: Alexey Navalny returned to Russia last weekend, despite the near certainty that he would be arrested upon arrival in Moscow and probably thrown in prison. Not everyone understands why he did it. Most likely, Navalny came back because he doesn’t believe in living in fear and refuses to trade his freedom for a life in exile. The stakes couldn’t have been clearer after the Russian authorities fabricated entirely new felony allegations and declared that Navalny had “violated the terms of his parole” by staying in Germany to recover from being poisoned. […] Navalny’s remarkable bravery has earned him a reputation among many in Russia and around the world as a true hero. Here at Meduza, we’re just ordinary people. And we worry about what will happen to Navalny in prison. With all this in mind, we demand Alexey Navalny’s immediate release.
The Moscow Times: A Moscow court on Wednesday postponed the start of the trial of detained Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny on charges of defaming a World War II veteran, his lawyers said. Olga Mikhailova, a lawyer for Navalny, told journalists the court pushed back the trial until Feb. 5 because the opposition figure is currently in virus quarantine after returning from Germany on Sunday and being immediately put behind bars. The court ruled that the “hearing has to take place with his participation,” Mikhailova said, adding that Navalny’s allies supported the decision.
RFE/RL: A police officer in the Russian city of Samara has been placed under house arrest on suspicion of leaking data that may have helped the Bellingcat investigative group identify the alleged poisoners of Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny, the RBC business daily reports, citing its sources. Police officer Kirill Chuprov was detained in December and charged with abuse of power, according to an RBC report from January 19. Chuprov, who may face up to 10 years in prison if convicted, is accused of leaking confidential information from a database containing information about the movement of people across Russia to a third party, according to the RBC source, who is said to be close to the investigation, said.
Human Rights in Ukraine: Russia’s persecution of Azat Miftakhov, a PhD student at Moscow State University is almost certainly linked with his anarchist views, however the 6-year sentence handed down on 18 January also looks like punishment for refusing to admit to something he did not do. The Golovina District Court in Moscow sentenced him to six years’ imprisonment in a medium security prison colony purely on the basis of a ‘secret witness’ who claimed to remember him standing and watching while three others broke the window of an office of the ruling United Russia party and threw a smoke bomb inside. Two other defendants – Yelena Gorban and Andrei Eikin, who had ‘confessed’ to committing this very minor offence, received suspended sentences. Miftakhov has long been recognized as a political prisoner, and his release had been demanded by a huge number of academics, both in Russia and abroad. The calls were ignored, with judge Sergei Bazarov passing virtually exactly the sentences demanded by the prosecutor.
Committee to Protect Journalists: Russian authorities should immediately release journalist Dmitry Timoshenko, drop all charges against him, and stop using the country’s court system to harass members of the press, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Police in the eastern city of Khabarovsk have detained Timoshenko, a correspondent for the independent regional newspaper Arsenievskie Vesti, three times since January 16 while he covered protests in the city; he was most recently arrested this afternoon and remains in custody, according to news reports. “Russian authorities should immediately release journalist Dmitry Timoshenko, drop all charges against him, and stop detaining journalists on trumped-up charges in order to keep them from covering protests in Khabarovsk,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator. “These repeated arrests and fines are harassment clearly aimed at intimidating the news media into silence.”
RAPSI: A court in the Bryansk Region dismissed a petition for parole filed by convict Yevgeny Kovalenko, who had thrown a garbage can refuse bin at a National Guard officer at an unauthorized rally on July 27, 2019, in Moscow, according to his attorney Mansur Gilmanov. The activist was denied parole despite the prosecutors’ agreement and positive comments from the penal colony administration, the lawyer told RAPSI on Tuesday. In September 2019, Moscow’s Meshchansky District Court sentenced Kovalenko to 3.5 years behind bars. The man was found guilty of use of violence against a representative of authority. According to case papers, he threw a refuse bin at a National Guard officer and kicked a police lieutenant.
RFE/RL: Single-person protests — the largest allowed by law in Russia — decried the arrest of Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny. Navalny has been placed in a cell in Moscow’s notorious Matrosskaya Tishina detention center after a judge at a hastily arranged hearing ruled to keep the Kremlin critic in custody for 30 days following his dramatic airport arrest upon his arrival from Germany. He arrived late on January 17 from Berlin, where he had been recovering from a poison attack in August that Navalny says was ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
RAPSI: The Justice Ministry is drafting a bill on the system of probation in Russia. The draft law is to set up single principles of supervision over persons under suspended prison sentence and convicts serving various non-custodial sentences and those released on parole, the Ministry’s press service reports. According to the Ministry, it is also expected that in the first half of 2021, the Penal system development concept for the next 10 years will be approved in Russia. The main goals of the concept are humanization of criminal policy, ensurance of rights and freedoms of convicts, improvement of cooperation with civic institutions and social adaptation of convicts.