Russia Pressures Navalny Allies Ahead Of Weekend Protests

Clay Curtis
January 22, 2021

Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has said he does not plan to commit suicide and thanked his supporters in his first statement since being jailed in one of Moscow's most notorious prisons upon his return to Russian Federation.

Aides of jailed Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny faced possible fines and prison time on Friday as police vowed to crack down on opposition protests this weekend.

Navalny, an anti-corruption campaigner who is the Kremlin's most prominent foe, was arrested on Sunday when he returned to Russian Federation from Germany, where he had spent five months recovering from nerve-agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin.

Several Navalny allies were detained on Thursday as the government works to thwart Saturday's planned remonstration. She had urged people to take part in the protests.

"Putin is doing everything to intimidate you", Ivan Zhdanov, the head of Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation, wrote on Facebook.

But he cautioned that if she is found guilty, authorities could later open a criminal probe against her. On Friday, his spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh was ordered to spend nine days in jail, and Georgy Alburov was jailed for 10 days.

Police also detained Navalny ally Lyubov Sobol, her lawyer said.

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A number of public figures including actors, musicians and athletes have in recent days spoken out in support of the jailed opposition figure.

State communications watchdog Roskomnadzor later warned social media platforms including TikTok against encouraging minors to participate in the rallies, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.

His 2017 video into the alleged wealth of former Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has been viewed 38 million times and sparked mass protests on its release.

Navalny, President Vladimir Putin's most prominent critic, was detained at the weekend and later jailed for alleged parole violations after flying back to Russian Federation for the first time since being poisoned by a military grade nerve agent.

More than a dozen activists and Navalny allies in several Russian regions have been detained as well.

Monetochka, a 22-year-old pop star, called for Navalny to be released in a post on Instagram.

The retired former captain of Russia's national football team Igor Denisov said on Thursday that although he was never interested in politics, Navalny "should be freed".

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