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Father Of Navalny Associate Remanded In Custody; Son Calls Charge 'A New Level Of Villainy'

Ivan Zhdanov, the director of Aleksei Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation (file photo)
Ivan Zhdanov, the director of Aleksei Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation (file photo)

ROSTOV-ON-DON, Russia -- The father of Ivan Zhdanov, the director of jailed Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), has been remanded in custody on a charge of abuse of office, which he and his supporters reject.

The Rostov regional court on April 7 upheld an earlier decision by a lower court in the city of Rostov-on-Don to keep 66-year-old Yury Zhdanov in pretrial detention at least until May 21.

Yury Zhdanov, who took part in the hearing via a video link from the detention center, and his lawyers requested the court transfer him to house arrest due to his age and the danger of getting infected with the coronavirus while in custody.

Zhdanov said at the hearing that many of those in his cell are sick. He said earlier that the cell he is kept in is so overcrowded that inmates have to sleep in shifts due to the limited number of beds.

Yury Zhdanov was sent to pretrial detention after police searched his home on March 26.

His son said last week that he had "no doubts that the criminal case was launched because of me and my activities." He called his father's arrest "absolutely a new level of villainy and turpitude from the [Russian] presidential administration."

According to Zhdanov, before retiring last summer his father worked as an official in a remote town for several years.

Investigators now accuse Yury Zhdanov of recommending the town’s administration provide a local woman with a subsidized apartment, though it later turned out that the woman's family had previously received housing allocations.

The apartment was later returned to municipal ownership in accordance with a court decision and no one among those who made the decision was held responsible.

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Navalny's FBK is known for publishing investigative reports about corruption among Russia's top officials, including President Vladimir Putin.

The latest report focused on a lavish Black Sea mansion that Navalny's team called "a palace for Putin," capturing worldwide attention with almost 116 million views on YouTube.

The report showcases a luxurious, 100 billion ruble ($1.32 billion) estate near the popular holiday town of Gelendzhik that it said Putin effectively owns via a complex trail of companies.

The Kremlin has denied the report, saying "one or several [businessmen] directly or indirectly own" the property, adding that it "has no right to reveal the names of these owners."

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

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