MOSCOW (AP) – Russian police have issued a stern warning against participating in a protest held on Sunday for the release of jailed opposition leader Alexey Navalny, the Kremlin’s most prominent enemy.
The warning comes under the custody of Navy colleagues and opposition journalists and the police’s plan to prohibit movement in the center of Moscow on Sunday.
Navalny was arrested on 17 January after flying back to Russia from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from nerve-agent poisoning. His sit-in sparked nationwide protests in about 100 cities a week earlier; About 4,000 people were arrested.
The next performance in Moscow is planned for Lubyanka Square. The Federal Security Service, which claims Navalny has arranged for the Kremlin to poison him with a Soviet-era nerve agent, is headquartered in the Chowk. The Russian government has denied a role in the poisoning of the 44-year-old.
The city’s police department said most of central Moscow, from Red Square to Lubyanka, would have pedestrian restrictions and the surrounding seven metro stations would remain closed on Sunday. Restaurants in the area are also to be closed, and the iconic GUM department store on Red Square said it would only open in the evening.
Irina Volk, a spokesman for the Russian Interior Ministry, cited the coronovirus epidemic in warning of protests on Saturday. She said that participants who violate epidemiological rules could face criminal charges.
The January 23 protests in support of Navalny were among the largest and most widely watched in Russia in many years, and the authorities sought to prevent a repeat. Police raided Navalni’s family, colleagues and anti-corruption organization’s apartments and offices this week.
His brother Oleg, top aide Hussov Sobol and three others were placed under two months of house arrest on Friday under criminal investigation for alleged violations of coronovirus rules during last month’s protests.
Sergei Smirnov, editor of the Media Riroma News site, founded by members of the Pussy Riot Gunda collective, was detained by police when he left her home on Saturday. No charges were declared against him.
On 20 August, Navalny went into a coma on a domestic flight from Siberia to Moscow. He was transferred to a hospital in Berlin two days later. Lab in Germany, France and Sweden, and testing by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, established that he was in contact with the Novichok nerve agent.
Russian authorities have refused to open a thorough criminal investigation citing lack of evidence.
Navalny was arrested after he returned to Russia on the grounds that his months of recovery in Germany violated the terms of a suspended conviction in 2014 for fraud and money-laundering, a case that He says that it was political revenge.
Just after his arrest, Navalny’s team released a two-hour video on his YouTube channel about a grand Black Sea residence allegedly built for Russian President Vladimir Putin. The property has facilities such as an “aqua-discotheque”, a hookah lounge equipped for pole dancing and a casino viewing. The video has been viewed more than 100 million times and is inspired by a stream of sarcastic jokes on the Internet.
Putin has said that neither he nor any of his close relatives own the property, and the Kremlin insisted that it has nothing to do with the president, even though it is protected by the federal bodyguard agency FSO, the top government Provides security for officers.
Russian state television later aired a report from the complex, showing it under construction and also included an interview with an engineer who claimed the building would be a luxury hotel.
On Saturday, construction magnate Arkady Rotenberg, a close Putin aide and his occasional judo partner, claimed he owned the property.