The Moscow police launched a series of raids on Wednesday, arresting the offices of the jailed anti-Russian leader Alexei Navalny’s family and associates and his brother.
Locations searched included Navalny’s apartment, where police detained her brother, Oleg, and a rented apartment, where Navalny’s wife, Yulia, lives.
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In the video on Internet TV station Doze, Yulia Navalny told reporters through the window that the police did not allow her lawyer to enter the apartment.
Navalni’s supporters conducted the raid four days before the protests called for Sunday.
His release was called for in more than 100 cities across the nation last Saturday, a strong display of anger toward the Kremlin. About 4,000 people were arrested in those protests.
Other locations raided by police on Wednesday were Navalny’s Office of the Anti-Corruption Foundation and its studios producing videos and online broadcasts. Popular videos and broadcasts helped make Navalny the most prominent and persistent enemy of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
There was no immediate police comment on the searches. Aides to Navalny said on social media that the searches were linked to last week’s mass protests in Moscow over alleged violations of epidemiological rules.
But Navalny’s team said in a message, “The real reason for Navalny’s teams, relatives and office searches is Putin’s paranoid fear.”
Navalny’s challenge escalated after Putin was arrested on January 17 after returning from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from the venom of the nerve-agent that he accuses the Kremlin.
Two days after his arrest, his organization released a comprehensive video report on a seaside complex allegedly built for Putin. This has been seen millions of times, further increasing discontent.
Navalny is the Kremlin’s most prominent and durable foe, who fell into a coma on 20 August on a domestic flight from Siberia to Moscow. He was transferred two days later from a hospital in Siberia to a hospital in Berlin. Labs in Germany, France and Sweden, and tests conducted by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons established that he was exposed to the Novichok nerve agent of the Soviet era.
Russian authorities have refused to open a full criminal investigation, citing lack of evidence to poison Navalny.
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In December, Navalny released a recording of a phone call, in which he said he described a man as an alleged member of the Federal Security Service, or FSB officials, who allegedly poisoned him in August and then Tried to cover him U.P. The FSB dismissed the recording as fake.
The arrest of Navalny and the drastic police action over the protests led to widespread criticism from the West and calls for his release.
Russia’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday that a statement by a group of seven foreign ministers condemning her arrest leads to “gross interference” in Russia’s domestic affairs.