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Journalists, Activists Under Pressure In Moscow After Navalny Rally

A demonstrator holds up a sign reading "Today they kill Navalny, tomorrow they kill me" during a rally in Moscow on April 21.
A demonstrator holds up a sign reading "Today they kill Navalny, tomorrow they kill me" during a rally in Moscow on April 21.

MOSCOW -- Journalists and activists are under pressure in Moscow for being at a rally earlier this month demanding the immediate release of jailed opposition leader Aleksei Navalny.

Police on April 27 detained Aleksei Korostelyov, a reporter for Dozhd television, for questioning regarding his presence at the protest.

After Korostelyov's editors arrived at the police station with documents confirming that he was covering the April 21 rally as a reporter, police released him but ordered him to come back for questioning on April 30.

Meanwhile, police visited Oleg Ovcharenko, a correspondent for the Ekho Moskvy radio station, on April 27 and ordered him to produce documents for the police proving that he was at the rally in question as a reporter.

The day before, police detained professor Aleksandr Agadzhanyan from the Russian Humanitarian University for questioning and charged him with taking part in the unsanctioned April 21 demonstration.

They also detained for questioning opposition politician Leonid Gozman, and visited the homes of several activists, including human rights defender Anna Borzenko.

Writer Dmitry Bykov said he was summoned for questioning, and police reportedly switched off electricity at the apartment of artist Daniil Dvinsky after they were unable to reach him at home.

Thousands of people participated in the April 21 rallies in Moscow and other Russian cities organized by Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) to express concerns over his deteriorating health in prison.

The number of demonstrators arrested by police was estimated at almost 2,000 by OVD-Info group, which monitors the detention of political protesters and activists.

On April 23, Navalny stopped the three-week hunger strike that he had launched to demand proper medical treatment for acute pain in his back, legs, and arms. Doctors had urged Navalny to end the strike, fearing his life was at risk.

Navalny was arrested on January 17 upon his return to Russia from Germany, where he received life-saving treatment for a poisoning in Siberia in August 2020.

He has insisted that his poisoning with a Soviet-style chemical nerve agent was ordered directly by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin has denied any role in the incident

In February, a Moscow court ruled that, while in Germany, Navalny had violated the terms of parole from an old embezzlement case that is widely considered to have been politically motivated.

Navalny's 3 1/2-year suspended sentence from the case was converted to a prison term, though the court said he will serve 2 1/2 years in prison given time already served in detention.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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