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Navalny Activists Detained At Nizhny Novgorod Rally


Aleksei Navalny's national campaign chief, Leonid Volkov (left), was detained in Nizhny Novgorod, while Moscow office chief Nikolai Lyaskin (right), was recently attacked on the street. (file photo)

The head of the local election coordinating committee and about a dozen activists have been detained by police in the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod while attempting to hold a rally in support of opposition politician Aleksei Navalny.

Police detained campaign coordinator Anna Yudina on September 29 at the site of an unsanctioned rally for Navalny's would-be campaign for the March 2018 presidential election. They also seized campaign property and materials.

Earlier in the day, Navalny was detained by police in Moscow and prevented from boarding a train to Nizhny Novgorod. Also, Navalny's national campaign coordinator, Leonid Volkov, was detained in Nizhny Novgorod.

Both Navalny and Volkov were released late on September 29 and ordered to appear at a court hearing on October 2 on charges of repeatedly violating the rules of organizing a rally.

Navalny vowed that the arrests would not deter him from holding more rallies around the country in coming weeks.

An RFE/RL Russian Service correspondent estimated there were about 1,000 people at the site of the rally.

Earlier, local officials refused to give permission for the rally, a decision that Navalny denounced as illegal. Navalny called on supporters to come to the rally despite the official rejection.

Russian election officials have said Navalny, a popular anticorruption activist who received 27 percent of the vote in the 2013 Moscow mayoral election, is not eligible to participate in the election because of a felony embezzlement conviction that he says was politically motivated.

Earlier this month, the New York-based NGO Human Rights Watch issued a statement saying that Navalny's campaign supporters were being "systematically" harassed and attacked by nationalists, supporters of President Vladimir Putin, and law enforcement officials.

On September 15, the head of Navalny's Moscow office, Nikolai Lyaskin, was attacked by an unknown assailant wielding a metal pipe. Navalny himself suffered a chemical burn to his eye in April when an assailant splashed green antiseptic into his face.

In a social-media post on September 27, Navalny accused authorities in St. Petersburg of refusing to agree to a suitable location for a campaign rally in that city.

With reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters

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