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Russian Bailiffs Seize Kremlin Critic Navalny's Apartment After Court Ruling

Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny during his treatment in Berlin for poisoning
Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny during his treatment in Berlin for poisoning

Russian bailiffs have seized the apartment of Kremlin-critic Aleksei Navalny after he lost a defamation lawsuit involving a businessman with close ties to President Vladimir Putin.

Kira Yarmysh, a spokeswoman for Navalny, announced the property’s seizure on September 24 on her Twitter account.

She said that court bailiffs had put the freeze on his apartment in August, while he was in a coma, to prevent the activist from selling, gifting, or mortgaging the property. Navalny is still allowed to reside in his apartment in Moscow.

A Moscow court in October ordered Navalny, his Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), and the organization's lawyer, Lyubov Sobol, to pay a total of 87.6 million rubles ($1.15 million) split evenly among them to a catering company, Moscow Schoolchild, for defamation.

Moscow Schoolchild, since renamed Wilmap LLC, had sued the three defendants over an investigative video produced by FBK alleging that the company did not comply with sanitary standards, forged documents, and supplied poor-quality food to kindergartens and schools.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Kremlin-connected businessman known as "Putin’s Chef," said last month he had bought up the debt owed to the school and intended to collect on it should Navalny survive a poisoning.

Navalny on August 20 took ill aboard a Moscow-bound flight from the Siberian city of Tomsk.

He was later transported to a hospital in Berlin where doctors said he had been poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent belonging to the Novichok group, a Soviet-made chemical weapon.

The activist has emerged from his coma and was discharged from the hospital on September 23. He continues to recover in Germany.

FBK has said that the Moscow caterer was owned by Prigozhin.

The businessman has long denied any affiliation with the catering company, but an investigation later found that half of Moscow Schoolchild was owned by a former policeman who identified himself as the head of security for Concord, Prigozhin's main company.

Prigozhin has been the subject of other FBK investigations in the past.

Navalny announced in July that the court ruling against his company had forced him to liquidate FBK and its bank accounts to prevent the seizure of cash by bailiffs.

The activist, who carries out corruption investigations financed by donations from Russian citizens and firms, has registered a new company in order to continue his work.

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