Russian police have taken three former regional coordinators of Aleksei Navalny’s campaign team for questioning amid continued pressure against associates of the jailed opposition leader.
The home of Zakhar Sarapulov, who headed the Irkutsk headquarters of Navalny’s network of regional campaign groups, was raided in the early morning of December 28 and Sarapulov was arrested by the Russian investigative committee.
That same morning, the Tomsk headquarters offices of the banned Navalny movement were raided and its former leader, Kseniya Fadeyeva, was detained in her cottage and taken for questioning.
In Saratov, regional coordinator Andrei Gorodetsky was also arrested, according to Siberia. Realities of RFE/RL’s Russian Service.
It is not clear whether a reported raid conducted against a fourth Navalny associate, Vadim Ostanin, former head of Navalny’s campaign office in Barnaul, resulted in his detention or charges.
Leonid Volkov, who is among several Navalny associates who fled Russia this year under pressure from Russian authorities, described the situation as a “huge disaster” in a post on his Telegram channel on December 28.
Volkov wrote that Sarapulov and Fadeyeva, a representative of the Tomsk city council, had previously refused his council to leave the country.
RFE/RL’s Siberia.Realities reported that the two detainees were allowed access to lawyers, who were not allowed to reveal details of their clients’ cases.
Fadeyeva is suspected of using her official position in connection with the organization of an extremist group, according to the Tomsk news agency TV2, a charge punishable by two years in prison.
TV2 also reported that Fadeyeva is likely to be transferred to Moscow for questioning and is also suspected of participation in a non-profit organization that undermines the personality and rights of citizens, which is also punishable by imprisonment.
Sarapulov and Gorodetsky were also reportedly arrested on suspicion of using their official positions to create or participate in an extremist community.
Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation and its political movement were declared extremist organizations by Russian authorities in June and dissolved.
In November, a criminal case was opened against the head of the Ufa regional office of the Navalny team, Lilia Chanysheva, accused of creating and managing an extremist community.
Chanysheva was ordered last week to remain in pretrial detention until April 9.
Navalny himself has been in prison since February after being arrested the previous month on his return from Germany to Russia, where he had been treated for near-fatal poisoning with a Novichok-like nerve agent he says was ordered by Russian President Vladimir. Putin.
The Kremlin has denied any role in the poisoning of Navalny.
Several of the opposition leader and Kremlin critic’s associates have been accused of creating an extremist group. Many of his close associates, including lawyer Lyubov Sobol, fled the country under pressure from the Russian authorities.