Kremlin Critic Navalny’s Offices Raided Ahead of Moscow Vote

Authorities have raided three of opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s offices in Moscow on the eve of a local election where he is advocating voters to unseat Kremlin-backed candidates.

The raids took place ahead of the Sept. 8 city legislature vote that galvanized this summer’s mass protests in Moscow when election officials disqualified opposition candidates, including some of Navalny’s allies, from the ballot. Navalny has promoted a “Smart Voting” strategy, urging supporters to vote for the candidates best positioned to beat Kremlin-aligned incumbents this Saturday. 

«Сейчас в ФБК и на студии проходят обыски. Совершенно очевидно, что все, что происходит, связано с „Умным голосованием“, которое случится в ближайшее воскресенье во время выборов».⁰

В нестандартных условиях Алексей говорит, как победить единороссов: https://t.co/Tz3icFpAXW pic.twitter.com/K9geCyxgYM— Навальный LIVE (@navalnylive) September 5, 2019

At least nine people were detained in Navalny’s office and taken to a police station before being released without charges, the OVD-Info police-monitoring website reported after midnight Friday.

The team for Navalny’s YouTube channel showed the aftermath of the raids, with empty computer server racks, open safes and a half-empty studio where many of the channel’s popular videos are filmed.

“These aren’t raids but a burglary of [Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation] FBK, the [YouTube channel] studio and his Moscow headquarters,” Navalny ally Lyubov Sobol tweeted.

❗️От нашей студии не осталось ничего. Забрали абсолютно все компьютеры, мониторы, суфлеры, камеры, свет, серверную, документы из сейфа, жесткие диски, телефоны, ноутбуки, airpods, даже еду.

Поддержите нас! Не дайте жуликам и ворам остановить нашу работу: https://t.co/jQsMnfoH68 pic.twitter.com/0tNGSJcZ9k— Навальный LIVE (@navalnylive) September 5, 2019

“Everything’s been taken out, flipped and gutted. It’s not yet possible to estimate the damage,” Sobol, who is among a slew of rejected opposition candidates to the Moscow City Duma, added.

Meanwhile, FBK and the independent Dozhd television channel were sued by a car rental company Thursday for a lump sum of 1 billion rubles ($15 million). The car rental company joins two of Moscow’s transportation authorities and a restaurant owner in seeking damages from opposition figures over alleged traffic disruptions and lost revenue during the protests. 

Authorities had opened a criminal investigation into the FBK during one of the election protests last month for allegedly laundering 1 billion rubles ($15.3 million).

(c) The Moscow Times

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