“Biggest Police Operation in Modern Russian History” Targets Navalny

  • "Putin is very angry and is stamping his feet," Navalny said in a video posted on his Twitter account.
  • For Navalny and his supporters, it is the Kremlin's punishment for the tactical voting strategy advocated by the opposition leader before the Moscow municipal elections.
  • Since August, Navalny's organization is being investigated for allegedly laundering 1 billion Rubles ($15 million).

Russian police have carried out more than 200 raids in 41 cities across the country on Thursday against supporters of Alexei Navalny. As a result of the raids, in cities from Murmansk to Vladivostok, the police have arrested dozens of employees of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation. Navalny is known as a staunch opponent of President Vladimir Putin, and for investigating the corruption of the Russian elite.

The Anti-Corruption Foundation is a Russian nonprofit organization based in Moscow established in 2011 by activist and politician Alexei Navalny. Its main goal is to investigate and to expose corruption cases among high-ranking Russian government officials.

“Putin is very angry and is stamping his feet,” Navalny said in a video posted on his Twitter account. “I congratulate you. Today, the biggest police operation in modern Russian history is taking place,” he added. His message accompanied a surveillance camera video showing one of his supporters dragged on the ground by a hooded policeman.

For Navalny and his supporters, it is the Kremlin’s punishment for the tactical voting strategy— to opt for the candidate with the best chance of unseating pro-Kremlin officials— advocated by the opposition leader before the Moscow municipal elections. On Sunday, Putin’s United Russia Party lost a third of it seats. Navalny was not allowed to participate in local elections. In addition, demonstrations have been organized almost every weekend since mid-July to protest against the exclusion of opposition candidates in the elections.

“The state has two tasks— to frighten and steal. It’s obvious that the aim of this operation is to destroy our headquarters structure and to obstruct the work of our headquarters,” said Leonid Volkov, a senior Navalny ally.

Money Laundering

Since August, Navalny’s organization is being investigated for allegedly laundering 1 billion Rubles ($15 million). Volkov, Navalny’s deputy, indicated that the operation was directed against “the apartments of the coordinators and the offices, but also in the homes of the collaborators and active volunteers.”

Leonid Mikhailovich Volkov is a Russian politician of the unregistered Progress Party, member of the Russian opposition, and chief of staff for Alexei Navalny’s campaign for the 2018 presidential election. He is also a former deputy of the Yekaterinburg City Duma.

The police have intervened in the cities of Nizhny Novgorod, Vladivostok, Kazan, Novosibirsk, Murmansk, St. Petersburg and in the Kaliningrad enclave. In Yekaterinburg, in the Urals, the images published by the local media show policemen with their faces covered preventing access to a place of the opponent’s organization. In Perm, a group of activists said that law enforcement officials entered the premises by entering through a window. On Twitter, Navalny said the police were also in front of his offices in Moscow. Last week these offices, as well as a recording studio, have already been raided.

The independent Golos movement, specializing in observing the elections in Russia, also announced Thursday that police operations are heavy at its provincial offices. The Times Newspaper (paywall) writes about mass searches of Aleksey Navalny’s supporters throughout Russia, noting that such operations involving men in balaclavas, or “mask shows,” became a hallmark of post-Soviet Russia.

This resembles previous raids on opponents of the Kremlin. About 10 years ago, security forces came to the offices of banker Alexander Lebedev. In 2004, commandos rushed into the offices of the Yukos oil company Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the newspaper said.

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Joyce Davis

My history goes back to 2002 and I  worked as a reporter, interviewer, news editor, copy editor, managing editor, newsletter founder, almanac profiler, and news radio broadcaster.

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