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Police In Russia Harass Navalny Supporters, Seize Leaflets

Navalny supporter Semyon Kochkin said on January 18 that police officers had confiscated leaflets from him. (file photo)

Supporters of Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny say their members have been harassed by police with some offices searched and leaflets calling for a boycott of Russia's upcoming election seized.

The coordinator of Navalny’s office in the Volga regional city of Cheboksary, Semyon Kochkin, said on Twitter on January 18 that police officers had confiscated leaflets from him.

The chief of Navalny’s local office in the Siberian city of Kemerovo, Ksenia Pakhomova, wrote on Twitter that a teenage Navalny supporter, Vasily Kaverin, had been detained by police for several hours after distributing election boycott leaflets.

Navalny himself said that police had searched his office in St. Petersburg.

A video placed on Navalny's official Twitter account showed several officers forcing people out of the premises saying that they received information that illegal activities or an illegal document were inside the office.

Navalny, an anticorruption crusader and vocal opponent of President Vladimir Putin, called for the boycott of the March 18 vote after election authorities in December barred him from the ballot due to a criminal conviction he says was fabricated.

His supporters plan to organize mass rallies across Russia on January 28 to protest against the decision.

Putin, who has been president or prime minister since 1999, is seeking a fourth six-year term in the upcoming election.

Kremlin critics contend that most of the other candidates are being used as window-dressing in a vote Putin is certain to win in Russia's tightly controlled political environment.