13 Sep 2019
Russian law enforcement authorities on Thursday carried out mass raids on the homes and offices of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s supporters across the country, a move he described as the biggest crackdown of its kind in modern Russian history.
More than 200 searches took place as part of an investigation into money-laundering in 41 towns and cities, Navalny said. CCTV footage showed masked men using power tools to remove doors and armed officers securing various premises associated with Navalny’s political movement.
The raids happened four days after the ruling United Russia party, which supports President Vladimir Putin, lost a third of its seats in the Moscow city assembly while easily retaining its dominant nationwide position.
Navalny, whose own allies had been barred from running in the Moscow city election, had urged people to vote tactically to try to reduce the chances of Kremlin-backed candidates, a strategy that appears to have had some success in the capital.
“Putin is very angry and is stamping his feet,” Navalny said in a video released on Thursday. “I congratulate you. Today the biggest police operation is modern Russian history is taking place.”
Authorities told activists that the searches were related to a money-laundering investigation into Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, an organization that has published embarrassing investigations into what it says is the wrongdoing of corrupt officials.
State investigators last month opened a criminal investigation into the alleged laundering of 1 billion rubles ($15 million) by the foundation itself. It also froze a number of bank accounts linked to the foundation, a move Navalny’s allies said was a trumped-up attempt to cripple his political movement.
Kira Yarmysh, Navalny’s spokeswoman, said the scale and nature of the latest raids was unprecedented.
By Andrew Osborn, Reuters, 12 September 2019
Read more at Reuters
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