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Crackdown On Navalny Election Bid Continues As Krasnoyarsk Activist Detained


Police questioned Ruslan Rudenko and subsequently released him after ordering him not to leave the city.
Police questioned Ruslan Rudenko and subsequently released him after ordering him not to leave the city.

KRASNOYARSK, Russia -- Police in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk have detained a local coordinator of opposition politician Aleksei Navalny's presidential election campaign and confiscated campaign materials.

Krasnoyarsk coordinator Ruslan Rudenko told RFE/RL that he was detained while receiving a delivery of campaign newsletters on July 11. Police told him they had "received a signal" from a citizen saying that "materials with extremist content would arrive in the city."

Anticorruption blogger Navalny is actively campaigning for the March 2018 presidential election, in which President Vladimir Putin is widely expected to seek and win a fourth term. Russian election officials, however, have said Navalny will not be allowed to contest the election because of his conviction on felony corruption charges that he says were politically motivated.

Police questioned Rudenko and subsequently released him after ordering him not to leave the city. All the campaign materials were confiscated.

Dozens of Navalny campaign activists in Moscow and other cities have been detained in recent days. On July 6, authorities raided Navalny's Moscow headquarters and seized computers, leaflets, and other materials.

The same day, police in the Urals city of Perm briefly detained Navalny's local coordinator.

Navalny has spearheaded nationwide anticorruption protests in Russia this year that have jolted the country's political establishment.

A video investigation alleging massive corruption by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev that Navalny posted in March has been viewed more than 23.6 million times.

Navalny has been convicted in two separate embezzlement and fraud cases and handed suspended sentences of five and 3 1/2 years.

Adding to the pressure on Navalny, Russia's prison service -- known as the FSIN -- said on July 11 that it had filed a motion with a Moscow court requesting one of the suspended sentences be replaced by incarceration.

It is not clear which of Navalny's two suspended sentences the motion involved.

While Navalny has repeatedly been jailed for short periods of time, analysts say he has avoided prison because the Kremlin fears that sentencing him to a long term behind bars could spark protests and lead to an increase in support.

Also on July 11, Navalny said he would be happy to hold debates with a Russian former commander of anti-Kyiv forces in eastern Ukraine, Igor Girkin -- also known as Igor Strelkov.

Navalny wrote on his website that Girkin had challenged him to publicly discuss his anticorruption activities, Russia's ties with the West, and Navalny's positions on eastern Ukraine and Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that Russia seized from Ukraine in 2014.

"Well, I am a passionate supporter of open political discussion and open debates," Navalny wrote. "I do have something to say about these issues."

Navalny said that he would be in contact with Girkin soon and seek to agree on a date and guidelines for a debate.

With reporting by RIA Novosti and Interfax

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