Four close associates of the jailed opposition figure have been charged with extremism-related offenses
A Moscow court has issued arrest warrants for four close allies of jailed Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny, the legal press service confirmed on Monday.
The list issued by the Basmanny District court comprises the current head of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), Maria Pevchikh, as well as Navalny’s spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh, the head of FBK’s polling service Anna Biryukova and journalist Dmitry Nizovtsev. None of the four are currently in Russia.
Pevchikh stands accused of “creating an extremist group, spreading ‘fakes’ about the Russian Armed Forces as well as vandalism,” the press service said. The woman, who holds British citizenship, assumed leadership of FBK in March 2023. Last December, she was put on Russia’s wanted list. Few details about her case emerged at the time.
In May 2023, the UK national was also added to Russia’s ‘foreign agents’ list. The status is reserved for individuals receiving funding from abroad or deemed to be ‘under foreign influence’ while seeking to impact policies or public opinion in the country.
Yarmysh and Nizovtsev, both of whom live abroad, were charged with being members of extremist groups and spreading ‘fakes’ about the Russian military. The opposition figure’s spokeswoman fled Russia in 2021 after being sentenced to one-and-half-years of ‘restricted freedom,’ having been found guilty of inciting people to gather for unauthorized protests. Her actions violated restrictions on preventing the spread of Covid-19 as part of a group linked to Navalny’s organization.
A journalist from Russia’s Far East, Nizovtsev was put on the wanted list on unannounced charges in December 2023, two months after he had been declared a foreign agent for supposedly receiving money from Ukraine. He and Yarmysh currently host shows on a Navalny-linked YouTube channel.
Russian authorities have accused Biryukova of publicly calling for terrorist activities as well as justifying and promoting terrorism. She is the wife of Navalny’s former right-hand man, Leonid Volkov, who fled to the EU in 2019. In 2021, Russia put him on the international wanted list on charges of illegally enticing minors to participate in unauthorized protests.
Navalny himself has been imprisoned since 2021. He was handed an additional nine-year sentence in early 2022 for contempt of court and a second fraud conviction. The charges were related to the activities of the FBK NGO, with the opposition figure accused of spending donations raised by the non-profit for “personal needs” as well as on bankrolling “extremist activities.”
In August 2023, he was sentenced to an additional 19 years on multiple extremism-related charges including creating an extremist group, endorsing extremism, financing such activities, and luring minors into them, as well as rehabilitating Nazi ideology.
Volkov, who headed FBK before Pevchikh, was added to Russia’s terrorism and extremism watchlist together with Ivan Zhdanov, another Navalny associate, who also resides outside the country.
January 29, 2024 at 10:47PM