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Chief Of Navalny's Team In Khabarovsk, Others Detained In Ongoing Crackdown


Aleksei Vorsin (file photo)

KHABAROVSK, Russia -- The chief of jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny's network in Russia says police have swept through the Far East city of Khabarovsk and detained several Navalny activists, local opposition politicians, and journalists.

Leonid Volkov wrote on Twitter on March 19 that Aleksei Vorsin, the head of Navalny's team in Khabarovsk, was arrested and that his pretrial restrictions will be decided by a local court on March 20.

Vorsin, Artyom Mozgov, a coordinator of the Libertarian party in Khabarovsk, and Andrei Pastukhov, a candidate for the city council, said earlier in the day via Telegram that police had searched their homes.

The three said that they were then detained for questioning, along with the former chief of Navalny's team in the city, Mikhail Savelov.

Mozgov, who was released hours later, told RFE/RL that he had been informed that he was a witness in a case, the details of which Mozgov did not give, as he had signed a document barring him from talking about it.

Police in Khabarovsk also detained journalist Maria Nuikina, another member of Navalny's team, on suspicion of disobeying police in December.

Volkov wrote on Twitter that Nuikina will remain in police custody until the court decides on her pretrial restrictions.

Another journalist, Aleksandra Runova of the Arsenyevskiye vesti newspaper, was also detained on March 19 on unknown charges.

The wife of local activist Valentin Kvashnikov said police also searched their home on March 19, detaining her husband and saying that he was a witness in an unspecified case.

She told RFE/RL that police confiscated all of Kvashnikov's computers, telephones, flash-memory cards, and other equipment.

The ongoing crackdown on Navalny's associates and supporters has been under way since Navalny himself was arrested on January 17 upon his arrival from Germany, where he was treated for poisoning in Siberia in August with what was determined by several European labs as a Novichok-like nerve agent.

On February 2, Navalny was found guilty of violating the terms of his suspended sentence relating to an embezzlement case that he has called politically motivated.

The court converted the sentence to 3 1/2 years in prison. Given credit for time already spent in detention, the court said the Kremlin critic would have to serve two years and eight months behind bars.

That ruling sparked new mass protests across the country that were also violently dispersed by the police.

More than 1,400 people were detained in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and other Russian cities that day.

Khabarovsk has been the site of ongoing rallies protesting the arrest of former Governor Sergei Furgal in July 2020 on murder charges more than a decade old.

Furgal has rejected the charges.

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