News of the Day: 19 March 2021

The Moscow Times: Russian security agents raided the Moscow offices of the opposition news website MBKh Media and the blacklisted Open Russia pro-democracy group, the outlet reported early Friday. The raids came two days after Russia’s state communications regulator asked Twitter to delete MBKh Media’s account for allegedly posting tweets containing materials from Open Russia. “There are more than four of them and they have a support group, men in balaclavas, and they’re waiting for someone to arrive at the office,” editor-in-chief Veronika Kutsyllo told the RBC news website.

RFE/RL: The chief of jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny’s network in Russia says police have swept through the Far East city of Khabarovsk and detained several Navalny activists, local opposition politicians, and journalists. Leonid Volkov wrote on Twitter on March 19 that Aleksei Vorsin, the head of Navalny’s team in Khabarovsk, was arrested and that his pretrial restrictions will be decided by a local court on March 20. Vorsin, Artyom Mozgov, a coordinator of the Libertarian party in Khabarovsk, and Andrei Pastukhov, a candidate for the city council, said earlier in the day via Telegram that police had searched their homes.

RFE/RL: A shaman in the Siberian region of Yakutia who has had several attempts to march to Moscow by foot “to drive President Vladimir Putin out of the Kremlin” stopped by authorities, has been officially found by a court to be “mentally unfit” and can be placed in a psychiatric clinic. Aleksei Pryanishnikov, the legal coordinator of the opposition group Open Russia, told RFE/RL on March 18 that the court ruled that Aleksandr Gabyshev cannot be held accountable for allegedly “attacking a police officer” because of his mental state.

RFE/RL: In 2017, Sergei Krasikov won a national competition for best young forest ranger in Russia. “It was a contest among all rangers under the age of 30,” said one of Sergei’s colleagues at the Altacheisky State Nature Preserve in the Siberian region of Buryatia who asked that his name be withheld. “They looked at everyone’s work in its entirety — how many cases had been filed, how many weapons had been confiscated, how many criminal and administrative cases were sent to the courts. And Sergei took first place in the whole country.” Now Krasikov is the target of a criminal case on charges that he exceeded his authority during the October 2020 arrest of five alleged poachers in the protected area, which is part of the ecosystem of Russia’s world-famous Lake Baikal.

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