News of the Day: 27 January 2021

The Guardian: Supporters of the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny have called for more rallies across the country this weekend to demand his release after he was put in pre-trial detention over parole violations he denies. One of Navalny’sleading allies, lawyer and politician Lyubov Sobol, told reporters on Tuesday that his anti-corruption movement would continue to operate despite many people being detained after protests swept through Russian cities at the weekend. As a wave of criminal cases were launched against those detained by police, a woman who was kicked to the ground by a baton-wielding policeman in St Petersburg has emerged as a symbol of the heavy-handed way the authorities cracked down on the protesters. The case of Margarita Yudina, 54, has become a national scandal after footage of her being kicked her in the stomach by a policeman for asking why the officer and his colleagues had detained went viral online.

The Guardian: Police have raided Alexei Navalny’s apartment and the headquarters of his Anti-Corruption Foundation in Moscow after investigators opened a new inquiry into alleged breaches of coronavirus restrictions during last week’s mass protests. According to several Russian media outlets, police also detained Navalny’s brother Oleg, who previously served a three-and-a-half year prison sentence in what the Kremlin critic had called a “hostage” situation. It is not yet clear why he would be detained. On Wednesday evening police banged at the door of Navalny’s wife, Yulia Navalnaya, who yelled back that her lawyer was on the way. After breaking through the door, police searched the house and later detained Navalny’s brother, according to media outlets MBKh Media and RTVI. At the same time, a close Navalny ally, Lyubov Sobol, demanded that police identify themselves as they prised open the door to a studio that broadcasts Navalny Live. Investigators searched the offices of the Anti-Corruption Foundation, the team that put out a recent investigation into a £1bn palace allegedly built for Putin’s personal use. Police also raided the homes of Kira Yarmysh, Navalny’s press secretary, and other aides.

RFE/RL, 27 January 2021: A shaman in the Siberian region of Yakutia who has had several attempts to march on foot to Moscow “to drive President Vladimir Putin out of the Kremlin” stopped by authorities, has been forcibly taken to a psychiatric clinic again after announcing a plan to resume his trek to the Russian capital. Aleksei Pryanishnikov, legal coordinator for the opposition group Open Russia, told RFE/RL on January 27 that police and officials at a psychiatric clinic in Yakutia’s capital, Yakutsk, had detained Aleksandr Gabyshev while giving little information on the reasons. “At this point, we do not know on what grounds they detained him. I think we will get the details tomorrow,” Pryanishnikov said, adding that Gabyshev’s lawyers are now with him.

RFE/RL, 27 January 2021: A Russian court has fined several of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Russian-language projects and its general director a total of 1.1 million rubles ($14,500) for failing to comply with new restrictions under the country’s “foreign agent” law. The Tverskoi District Court in Moscow on January 27 ruled in favor of four administrative protocols submitted by Russian media regulator Roskomnadzor “for noncompliance by the media performing the functions of a foreign agent with the requirements of the law on labeling information disseminated by them.” RFE/RL was fined 1 million rubles by the court, while the general director of the services was fined 100,000 rubles. On January 12, Roskomnadzor submitted a total of eight protocols that target four of RFE/RL’s Russian-language projects — its main service for Russia, Radio Liberty; the Current Time TV and digital network; and Siberia Realities (Sibir.Realii) and Idel Realities (Idel.Realii), two regional sites delivering local news and information to audiences in Siberia and the Volga-Urals.

The Moscow Time: Russia will fine seven social media companies for not removing pro-Navalny videos ahead of last Saturday’s nationwide protests, the country’s communications regulator said Wednesday. “Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, VKontakte, Odnoklassniki and YouTube will be fined for non-compliance with requirements to prevent the dissemination of calls to minors to participate in unauthorized rallies,” Roskomnadzor said in a statement published on its website. Videos in support of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny had racked up hundreds of millions of views on social media following his arrest and publication of a widely viewed investigation into a $1.4-billion Black Sea palace allegedly built for President Vladimir Putin. Large numbers of videos featured young Russians talking about their plans to protest and offering advice to first-time protesters on how to behave at an unsanctioned rally.

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