‘Putin is very angry’: Opposition movement hit by wave of simultaneous raids on towns and cities across Russia

‘This is a case where the actions of the police are no different from those of burglars,’ Alexei Navalny says

Zamira Rahim
Thursday 12 September 2019 18:26 BST
Russian police carry out raids against Alexei Navalny’s associates

Russian police officers have carried out mass raids on at least 150 homes and offices linked to Alexei Navalny’s allies.

Simultaneous searches took place at locations across at least 39 towns and cities including St Petersburg, Novosibirsk and Yekaterinburg.

They occurred four days after the ruling and pro-Putin United Russia party suffered local losses in Moscow during local and regional elections held on 8 September.

Authorities said the raids were linked to money-laundering.

Mr Navalny, an opposition leader and prominent Putin critic, had urged supporters to vote tactically in the local elections.

United Russia easily dominated across the country but lost a third of its seats on Moscow’s city council.

“Putin is very angry,” Mr Navalny said on social media after the raids.

“This is a case where the actions of the police are no different from those of burglars.”

A spokesperson for the politician said that the scale of the latest raids was unprecedented.

Leonid Volkov, a senior Navalny ally, said activists had been taken in for questioning and technical hardware confiscated.

“The overall number of searches is [more than] 150 and no fewer than 1,000 Russian law enforcement employees are involved [in the raids],” Mr Volkov wrote on social media.

“The state has two tasks – to frighten and steal,” he added.

“It’s obvious that the aim of this operation is to destroy our headquarters structure and to obstruct the work of our [regional] headquarters.”

Golos, an NGO which monitors Russian elections, said that the homes of its activists were also raided on Thursday.

Mr Navalny’s anti-corruption foundation has published a series of embarrassing investigations into officials.

State investigators have now opened a criminal probe into alleged money-laundering at the foundation.

They also froze bank accounts linked to the organisation.

Mr Navalny’s allies say the move is an attempt to cripple his political movement.

The politician himself was arrested in June after authorities violently clamped down on a march against police corruption in Moscow.

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Additional reporting by agencies

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