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Russia Adds Navalny Associate Zhdanov To International Wanted List

Ivan Zhdanov (file photo)

MOSCOW -- Russia has placed Ivan Zhdanov, the director of jailed Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), on an international wanted list and shared the details of his case with Interpol.

Zhdanov's lawyer, Vladimir Voronin, tweeted on June 29 that Russian authorities added his client, who currently resides in Lithuania, to a wanted list on June 18 but never informed him of the move.

Voronin posted the court decision online. It says that Russian officials are in the process of asking Interpol to issue a "red notice" on Zhdanov.

A red notice is a request to law enforcement worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition, surrender, or similar legal action. It is not, however, an international arrest warrant, and a country can choose whether or not to apprehend the suspect.

Analysts say the political nature of Zhdanov's case makes it unlikely that a Western country would execute an international warrant against him.

Voronin also said that Moscow's Nagatino district court issued an arrest warrant in absentia on June 29 for Zhdanov for not complying with an order not to leave Moscow. The warrant seeks his arrest for one month, starting from when he is detained. It gave no further details.

"We always assumed that if Ivan returns [to Russia] he will be immediately sent to a detention facility from the moment he crosses the border," Voronin was quoted by Reuters as saying. "Now we know this for a fact."

Voronin told reporters that the move to place Zhdanov on an international wanted list is related to a 2017 court order instructing him to remove parts of an FBK investigative report about then-Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev that the FBK published on the Internet. Zhdanov refused to follow the order.

Navalny's foundation has relentlessly targeted senior government officials over the past decade with widely watched videos that expose corruption allegations against them.

Voronin also said the court decision will be appealed.

In late March, Zhdanov's 66-year-old father, Yury Zhdanov, was arrested after police searched his home in the city of Rostov-on-Don.

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

Ivan Zhdanov has said that his father's arrest was a move to exert pressure on him because of his ties to Navalny.

Russian authorities have ramped up pressure on dissent ahead of parliamentary elections in September, with opinion polls showing support for the ruling United Russia party waning.

Navalny's political network has been instrumental in implementing a "smart voting" strategy -- a project designed to promote candidates most likely to defeat Kremlin-linked figures.

A Russian court on June 9 approved a request by prosecutors to declare organizations linked to Navalny as "extremist."

The Moscow City Court ruling prevents people associated with the FBK and Navalny's network of regional offices across Russia from seeking public office.

The ruling also carries lengthy prison terms for activists who have worked with the organizations.