Dozens of people have been arrested in Moscow on their way to protest the trial that could leave activist Alexei Navalni in prison for three and a half years.
After breaking the record for arrests during Sunday’s protests (31), when around 5,600 demonstrators were arrested in nearly 100 Russian cities, the police in Vladimir Putin’s country took severe measures for the hearing of Tuesday (2).
Groups of activists were arrested at metro stations near the Moscow City Court, not far from the famous Russian and Soviet trinket market in Izmailovo, northeast of the center of the capital.
According to the NGO OVD-Info monitoring police violence, 127 people were arrested until 12:30 p.m. (6:30 a.m. in Brasilia). The trial would take place in another court, Simonovsky’s, but the judge in charge of the case asked to leave it and suggested moving to the new, bigger and safer building.
Navalni arrived at the site at 11 a.m. (5 a.m. in Brasilia). Asked about his address, he joked to the judge that it was Matrosskaia Tichina (the silence of the sailor, in Russian), the famous 19th century Moscow prison in which he is being held.
Navalni was arrested on January 17, when he landed in Moscow after nearly five months of treatment in Berlin. He didn’t pass passport control.
He had been poisoned in the Siberian city of Tomsk in August, and claims that the chemical agent Novichok that doctors found in his body was administered by the FSB (Federal Security Service, domestic successor to the former KGB).
Based on his own investigations, which included a hoax on the spy accused of planting the poison in his underwear at his hotel, Navalni directly accused Putin.
The president denies any responsibility, and the Kremlin suggests that the activist is in the service of the CIA (American secret service). Putin condemned these acts because, according to Russian law, they are illegal because they were not authorized.
His arrest came because by leaving the country in a coma in an air intensive care unit, Navalni violated the terms of his probation. His lawyer presented the situation to the judge this morning, saying his client would appear in court the morning after his arrival.
The case against Navalni is promoted by the Federal Prison Service of Russia. The prosecution issued a favorable opinion on the execution of the sentence, confirmed during the trial. Navalni is currently under provisional arrest until the 18th.
Although Navalni is not exactly popular, with 4% support for his positions in a November poll, his arrest sparked the biggest protests in years across the country. They took place on the 23 and last Sunday (31), taking thousands of people to the streets in the freezing cold of the Russian winter.
In the first round, more than 4,000 people were arrested for participating in unauthorized protests. Among them was Iulia, Navalni’s wife, who was arrested and released again on Sunday – fined R $ 1,800 for instigating the acts.
Several Navalni allies suffered the same fate, increasing the pressure on his group.
In 2012, Navalni and his brother Oleg were accused of hitting a Russian branch of French cosmetics company Yves Rocher. They provided transportation services to the company. The company said it had not suffered any losses, but in 2014 they were both sentenced to three and a half years in prison.
Oleg was arrested and Navalni was suspended. Due to another fraud conviction which he said was also persecution, he was unable to participate in the 2018 presidential election.
Navalni was already a well-known activist, having participated in protests against Putin’s election in early 2012. But it was in 2017 that he gained national and international fame, when investigations into his Anti-Corruption Fund published in line prompted thousands of young people to demonstrate. against the government.
Initially, Navalni avoided attacking Putin directly, leading to questioning whether he was part of an internal disinformation campaign among Kremlin factions: his target was Dmitry Medvedev, the former Russian president and former Prime Minister.
In addition, as Folha showed in 2017, the financial opacity of his NGO was notorious. Over time, however, he returned the batteries to the Russian leader, in power since 1999.
It was another turning point in the career of the 44-year-old lawyer. He was once a liberal pro-market activist, affiliated with the traditional Yabloko (apple, in Russian) party, then flirted with xenophobic ultranationalist positions and, more recently, has passed through a certain left-wing populism appealing to young people.
He has always been viewed with suspicion by mainstream parties, such as Yabloko himself, for discrediting the political system.
Over the past two years, however, his network of activists has adopted the tactic of supporting any candidate in the election who did not belong to the Kremlin, United Russia party – with some success and targeting the parliamentary elections in September.
However, his work has always focused on anti-corruption activism. His most recent play accuses Putin of being the true owner of a palace he frequents on the shores of the Black Sea, which is said to have cost R $ 7.6 billion and even had toilet brushes at 4,600 euros. R $. The object has become one of the symbols of the demonstrations.
Navalni still faces other criminal charges of fraud, specifically related to the finances of his activist group.