KRASNODAR, Russia -- Police in the Russian city of Krasnodar have detained several members of the local team of jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny for unclear reasons amid ongoing crackdown on the network of Navalny’s teams across the country.
The coordinator of the team, Anastasia Panchenko, told RFE/RL that traffic police stopped a car transporting her and two colleagues as they were traveling to a location to shoot a documentary.
Police took the activists to the Krasnodar city police department for what they called "a check." When the activists said they would not go, the officers threatened them with a charge of disobeying a police order.
Panchenko said lawyer Feliks Vertegel is representing their interests at this point.
Activists associated with Navalny have been under pressure since the 44-year-old outspoken Kremlin-critic was incarcerated in February.
The coordinator of Navalny’s team in the North Caucasus region of Daghestan, Eduard Atayev, and his assistant Murad Manapov, were detained on unspecified administrative charges on April 12 and April 13 respectively, after the team was established over the weekend, Navalny's associate Ruslan Ablyakimov told RFE/RL.
Earlier in February, an initial attempt to set up Navalny’s team in Makhachkala failed after its coordinator-to-be, Ruslan Ablyakimov, was attacked and beaten by unidentified individuals after he arrived in the region from Moscow.
The coordinator of the network of Navalny's teams across Russia, Leonid Volkov, has said that, despite Navalny's incarceration, the teams will continue their work to derail the ruling United Russia party's stranglehold on power in parliamentary elections in September.
Navalny and his supporters have developed a "smart voting" system, which is aimed at undercutting United Russia candidates.
Under the system, voters can enter their address into a special app, which will then give them a list of the candidates deemed most likely to defeat their United Russia rivals regardless of their party affiliation.
Navalny was imprisoned after returning to Russia in January from his recuperation in Germany after he survived a poison attack last August in Siberia. He has accused President Vladimir Putin of ordering his assassination, something the Kremlin denies.
Navalny has complained of back pain and numbness in his hands and legs and has accused prison authorities of withholding adequate medical treatment.
He declared a hunger strike in late March, raising even more concerns about his overall health.