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Navalny Associate Detained Immediately After Serving Jail Term


Oleg Stepanov works on Navalny's team in Moscow.

MOSCOW -- A coordinator for Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny's team was immediately detained by police as he left a Moscow jail after serving an eight-day jail term.

Navalny's group placed a video on Twitter showing Oleg Stepanov leaving a jail in Moscow’s Khoroshyovo-Mnyovniki district on August 1 and being forced within seconds onto a police bus by security officials.

It is not clear why Stepanov was detained.

Stepanov was sentenced to eight days in prison for taking part in a rally on July 27 against the decision by Moscow election officials to bar some opposition candidates from a September 8 city council election, claiming they had insufficient signatures on nominating petitions.

Police violently dispersed the protest, saying later that 1,074 protesters were arrested. The independent OVD-Info organization reported 1,373 detentions.

Dozens of protesters have since been fined or given jail sentences ranging from three to 30 days for organizing and participating in an unsanctioned rally. Several are facing criminal charges for allegedly assaulting police.

The police crackdown was one of the biggest in recent years against an opposition that has grown more defiant while denouncing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s hold on power.

Even though he called for the rally, Navalny, a lawyer and anti-corruption activist, did not attend it. He was arrested by police a day before the protest and subsequently sentenced to 30 days in jail.

On July 28 he was rushed to hospital after he came down with what doctors at the facility called a severe allergic reaction.

Navalny, his lawyer and personal doctor, however, have claimed the suspect may have been poisoned.

The hospital's medical center on July 31 said tests on unspecified biomaterial taken from Navalny did not find any traces of poison in his system.

The 45 members of the Moscow City Duma hold powerful posts -- retaining the ability to propose legislation as well as inspect how the city’s $43 billion budget is spent.

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