Week-ending 21 May 2021
This week a court dismissed Aleksei Navalny’s legal challenge to the refusal by the Russian authorities to open an investigation into his attempted murder, a court postponed its decision on declaring the Anti-Corruption Foundation an extremist organisation, dozens of staff members of the ACF are under investigation for fraud and Navalny himself is reported to be in better health after ending his 24-day hunger strike.
REF/RL,17 May 2021: A Russian court has postponed the hearing into a case against the political network of jailed Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny to determine whether it should be designated “extremist.” The Moscow City Court was expected on May 17 to rule on a motion put forward by prosecutors that would label three organizations tied to Navalny — the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), the Citizens’ Rights Defense Foundation (FZPG), and Navalny’s regional headquarters — “extremist.” However, as the hearing started, prosecutors added six more volumes of materials to the case, meaning lawyers for Navalny’s groups needed time to go over the new materials, the Team 29 group of attorneys representing Navalny’s team said. An hour into the hearing, the court rule to postpone it until June 9.
The Moscow Times, 17 May 2021: Around 100 Moscow metro employees have been dismissed after they appeared in an email database leak exposing half a million supporters of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, the independent Dozhd broadcaster reported Saturday. Vasily Shelyakov, the deputy head of the Moscow metro trade union, told Dozhd that the ex-staffers directly link their termination to last month’s leak containing their emails. Navalny’s team had collected the addresses in an online campaign to organize mass nationwide protests and blamed the breach on a rogue employee it suspects of being a Federal Security Service (FSB) recruit.
RFE/RL, 17 May 2021: A Moscow court has upheld a fine imposed on Twitter over its refusal to remove posts related to unsanctioned rallies at which demonstrators expressed their support for jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny. The Taganka district court on May 17 ruled that a decision last month to fine Twitter 3.2 million rubles ($43,200) for leaving the posts, which urged teenagers to take part in pro-Navalny rallies in January, was correct and that Twitter’s complaint against the ruling “was not satisfied.”
The Moscow Times, 17 May 2021: Russia will not block access to Twitter but will continue slowing page loading speeds for the social media platform’s mobile app within its borders, state communications regulator Roskomnadzor said Monday. The regulator gave Twitter a May 15 deadline to comply with thousands of requests to remove content which it said violates Russian law — or else face being blocked in Russia. It also started to slow down access to the social network across Russia.
RFE/RL, 18 May 2021: A military court in Moscow has upheld a lower court’s decision to reject a lawsuit filed by jailed Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny against the Main Military Investigative Directorate (GVSU) over its refusal to launch a probe into his poisoning in Siberia with a chemical nerve agent in August. The Second Western District Military Court took only a few minutes to make the ruling on May 18. Neither Navalny nor his lawyers were present at the hearing. In the original case, the 235th Garrison Military Court ruled that “the GVSU’s decision” not to launch a probe into Navalny’s poisoning was “legal and well-grounded,” and that Navalny’s lawsuit was “not worth of considering.” Judge Andrei Tolkachenko said during that hearing that Siberian Transport Police refused to launch an investigation due to the “absence of a criminal act.”
RFE/RL, 19 May 2021: Police in Moscow have summoned dozens of staff members of jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) as part of an investigation into an alleged fraud case launched against the outspoken Kremlin critic in December 2020. FBK Director Ivan Zhdanov wrote on Telegram that police came to the homes of current and former FBK staff members overnight as they slept, slipping subpoenas under their doors to order them to come to the Investigative Committee for questioning on May 19. According to Zhdanov, some FBK members were able to talk to the police, who told them that 70 FBK staff members were ordered in for questioning as witnesses in the case.
The Moscow Times, 19 May 2021: An exiled top associate of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has accused Russian authorities of trying to imprison his elderly father for the rest of his life on corruption charges he says are politically motivated. Yuri Zhdanov, 67, was arrested in March on accusations of abusing his work obligations for personal gain by recommending social housing to a family that turned out to have previously received it. His son Ivan Zhdanov says his arrest is retaliation for his work as director of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK). A court on Wednesday toughened the charges against Yuri Zhdanov, extending his possible prison term from four years to 10.
The Moscow Times, 20 May 2021: A Moscow court sentenced a Russian businessman to four years in jail Thursday for attacking a riot police officer during a rally in support of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny this winter. Yevgeny Yesenov was among the 10,000 people detained across 100 Russian cities in January and February when they took to the streets demanding freedom for the fierce Putin foe and anti-corruption campaigner. Authorities opened 90 criminal investigations in the wake of the unauthorized rallies and charged dozens of protesters with using violence against law enforcement officers.
The Moscow Times, 20 May 2021: Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has recovered after he ended a 24-day hunger strike last month demanding adequate medical treatment, a top aide and the head of Russia’s prison service said Thursday. Navalny, President Vladimir Putin’s best known domestic critic, is serving two-and-a-half years in a penal colony outside Moscow on old fraud charges he says are politically motivated. The 44-year-old opposition figure went on hunger strike at the end of March demanding proper treatment behind bars for severe back pain and numbness in his limbs. He ended the protest on April 23 after receiving treatment at a civilian hospital.
The Moscow Times, 21 May 2021: Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny said Thursday he successfully eased out of his hunger strike and has discovered the recipe for being “happy” in prison. Navalny, President Vladimir Putin’s best known domestic critic, is serving two-and-a-half years in a penal colony outside Moscow on old fraud charges he says are politically motivated. Russia’s top opposition politician went on hunger strike at the end of March demanding proper treatment behind bars for severe back pain and numbness in his limbs. Navalny, who will turn 45 next month, ended the protest on April 23 after he received treatment at a civilian hospital and the West warned Putin of consequences if his critic died.