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Kremlin Says Legality Of Navalny's Call For Election Protests Will Be Checked


Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny speaks in the studio of the radio station Ekho Moskvy in Moscow on December 27.

The Kremlin says law enforcement authorities will "no doubt" examine whether opposition leader Aleksei Navalny has broken the law by calling for nationwide protests in support of a boycott of Russia's March 18 presidential election.

President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, made the remark in a regular conference call with journalists on December 28.

Navalny, who has been barred from challenging Putin in the election, is calling for a "voters' strike" and nationwide demonstrations on January 28 in support of a boycott of the ballot.

"We have the appropriate agencies that check such calls and intentions" to determine whether they are legal, Peskov said. "There is no doubt that this will be done."

Meanwhile, Ivan Zhdanov, a lawyer for Navalny's Anticorruption Foundation, wrote on Twitter that Navalny had appealed the decision by the Central Election Commission (CEC) to bar him from running in the presidential election.

Zhdanov said the Supreme Court will consider his motion on December 30.

“This is certainly good, but we can’t forget that the courts are just as controlled as the CEC,” he wrote. “The main thing now is the voters strike.”

Before Navalny announced plans for the January 28 demonstrations, Peskov had said his calls for an election boycott would be checked.

Navalny has said that he and his allies would submit documents soon in a bid to secure permission for the January 28 rallies, but urged supporters to demonstrate anyway if it is denied.

A vocal Kremlin critic whose reports have alleged corruption among senior Putin associates, Navalny has been convicted on criminal charges in two cases he says were fabricated for political reasons.

He announced his presidential bid in December 2016 and has been campaigning since then, but has faced hurdles ranging from bureaucratic hindrances and brief jail sentences to pressure on supporters and physical attacks.

Navalny's campaign manager, Leonid Volkov, was released from jail on December 28 after a 30-day term imposed by a court that ruled he had violated legislation on public demonstrations in connection with a protest in Nizhny Novgorod in September.

"Hi everybody!" Volkov tweeted after his release, thanking people for what he said were 8,000 messages he had been unable to answer in jail.

"I'm wildly happy to be in contact with you again," he wrote. "I missed you!"

The Central Election Commission rejected Navalny's effort to register as a candidate on December 25, citing a criminal conviction in a case the opposition politician contends was fabricated for political purposes.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Russian Service, Reuters, and TASS
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