A Russian human rights group says police have raided the offices of three employees of an NGO led by Russian anti-corruption activist and Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny.
Masked police early on August 8 searched the offfices of Aleksandr Pomazuev, Evgeny Zamyatin, and Vyacheslav Gimadi located on the premises of Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) in Moscow, seizing crates full of documents. The search was part of a criminal money-laundering investigation, the Apology of Protest rights watchdog said in an August 8 message on Telegram.
Navalny's spokeswoman, Kira Yarmysh, wrote on Twitter that bank accounts of the activist, his NGO, and its regional branches had been frozen.
The FBK has been working to expose wealth accumulated by Russian officials. The Apology of Protest group, which provides legal assistance to people facing pressure from the state over demonstrations, said that the raids were in connection with an alleged money-laundering scheme run by the FBK.
On August 3, Russia's Investigative Committee opened a criminal case into the alleged laundering of about 1 billion rubles ($15.3 million) by the FBK.
The committee said that employees of the foundation "received a large sum of money from third parties which they knew was procured illegally."
From January 2016 to December 2018, FBK "accomplices…gave a legal appearance" to the funds by transferring them to bank accounts and ultimately to the accounts of the Anti-Corruption Foundation, it added.
The probe comes after protests organized by Navalny's allies and supporters over the exclusion of opposition candidates to Moscow city council elections. Almost 1,400 demonstrators were detained by police at the July 27 rally, prompting another on August 4 where hundreds more were taken into custody.
Navalny, an anti-corruption crusader and vocal Kremlin foe, is currently serving a 30-day jail sentence for violating rules on public gatherings.
Navalny, 43, was taken from detention to a hospital late on July 28 with severe swelling of the face and a rash, sparking fears he had been poisoned. He was transferred back to jail a day later.
On August 1, Navalny requested an investigation that includes a toxicology report and a request to see surveillance video from the Moscow detention center where he is being housed.
Navalny has been one of President Vladimir Putin's most vocal critics for the better part of a decade, enduring multiple incarcerations, a barred attempt to run for president, and a hamstrung bid for the Moscow mayor's post.