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Jailed Russian Opposition Leader’s Family And Associates Placed On House Arrest

Several of the Russian opposition leader’s associates were ordered to remain under house arrest until March 23 by Moscow’s Tverskoy District Court on Friday, the Associated Press reported Friday.

The brother of and several associates of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny were placed under house arrest for two months by Kremlin authorities in an attempt to prevent upcoming protests, the AP reported. Tens of thousands of people across Russia protested Navalny’s arrest and 30-day detention last weekend, and supporters have advertised another round of protests for Sunday which law enforcement responded to by announcing restrictions on pedestrian and subway access around Moscow’s city center.

“You won’t succeed in scaring tens of millions of people who have been robbed by that government,” Navalny said from virtual court on Thursday, the AP reported. “Yes, you have the power now to put me in handcuffs, but it’s not going to last forever.”

Russian officials detained Navalny’s brother Lyubov Sobol; Oleg Stepanov, the leader of his Moscow office; Anastasia Vasilyeva of the Alliance of Doctors; and Pussy Riot punk collective member Maria Alekhina, the AP reported. They were reportedly detained for 48 hours while officials investigated alleged COVID-19 violations at last weekend’s demonstrations.

People protested for Navalny’s release in over 100 cities on Jan. 23 and around 4,000 demonstrators were detained, some received fines and jail terms, the AP reported. Over 1,600 people were charged with violations and over 150 were issues jail terms ranging from one week to 15 days for their involvement in protests in Moscow.

Navalny’s top strategist, Leonid Volkov, was placed on a wanted list for allegedly encouraging minors to participate in the unauthorized demonstrations, Russia’s Investigative Committee said, the AP reported. He rejected the charges.

The Prosecutor General’s office ordered the state communications auditor to block advertisements for any upcoming protests on the internet, according to the AP. The Prosecutor General’s office and the Interior Ministry issued public warnings against joining the demonstrations noting that participants could face criminal charges including up to 15 years in prison.

Navalny, 44, was arrested upon returning from Germany where he spent time recovering from a poisoning attack he claimed was orchestrated by the Kremlin, the AP reported. Russian officials rejected his claims. 

Navalny was jailed for 30 days for allegedly violating the terms of his probation set after a money-laundering conviction around seven years ago he said was politically motivated, the AP reported. A Moscow court rejected his appeal for release on Thursday.

Navalny was issued a 3 1/2-year suspended sentence that he may have to serve in prison depending on the outcome of a court hearing scheduled for next week, the AP reported. His brother, Oleg, previously served the same sentence after a conviction in the same case.

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