The Same Old Story: the Persecution of Opposition Leader Navalny

14 December 2012 

Source: (info
Investigators have announced the initiation of a criminal case against the prominent opposition leader Aleksei Navalny and his brother Oleg. Searches are once again being conducted. The specifics of the case suggest that this whole story is a politically-motivated attempt to put pressure on Navalny.

As a consequence of the opening of the criminal case, the Investigative Committee is carrying out searches at the homes of Aleksei Navalny's relatives, while Navalny himself is currently away from home.

Navalny is worried about the unpleasant discussion he is sure to have with his brother, who was not expecting to be named in a criminal case. Meanwhile Navalny's mother spoke out on behalf of her sons, agreeing with the characterization given to investigators by Dmitry Medvedev. “Searches are being conducted at Kobyakov Wicker Factory and at Oleg Navalny's office at work," Vladimir Markin, an official representative of Russia's Investigative Committee, told Interfax.

A statement has already been released at Oleg Navalny's workplace, the Russian postal service, saying that the searches have nothing to do with the company's activity. The Russian postal service also told RSN that it has no complaints regarding their employee: “We have no complaints as regards Oleg Navalny's work."

"My brother's home is being searched, as is my parents’. A search is currently being conducted at my brother's workplace. That is, at the Russian postal service, as I understand it. Maybe they'll find some letters or parcels," wrote Navalny on Twitter. The information appeared on Navalny's microblog less than an hour after the opposition leader had posted a touching photo of his brother holding his baby in his small kitchen at home both on Twitter and Facebook. "I went to my brother's house to find out how he was and to see if he was hiding 55 million roubles in his five square-metre kitchen," reads Aleksei Navalny's comment on the photo.

A day before a scheduled opposition demonstration, Russia's Investigative Committee announced the opening of a criminal case against Aleksei and Oleg Navalny. The brothers and their alleged accomplices are suspected of major fraud and legalisation of 55 million roubles they allegedly stole. "It's a complete farce," said the elder Navalny brother on his microblog, reporting that the news reached him when he was at a meeting at Aeroflot.

Incidentally, the hashtag #OPGNavalnys entered into the top trending hashtags in the Russian segment of Twitter. The younger Navalny seemed to have also been at work at the time. At least, he told Kommersant at around 10:00 that there was "a little bit going on" and that he was at a meeting. The newspaper noted that the pre-New Year's period at the Russian postal service, where Oleg Navalny holds the post of Deputy Director of "Daughter Companies" (Automated Sorting Centre companies), is extremely busy.

It seems that the opposition leader's brother managed to leave work early on Friday in connection with the on-going events, and remained in his humble (judging by the size of the kitchen) flat until the arrival of his elder brother.

Navalny's mother spoke out on behalf of her son: "I have every confidence in my children." She also came to her children's defence. Ludmila Navalnaya stated live on Echo of Moscow that law enforcement officials' claims against the Navalny brothers were provoked purely, in her opinion, by the opposition activism of her elder son.

"I agree with the characterization of the Investigative Committee given by our Prime Minister. The only thing I would highlight is that this only applies to the top officials and not to ordinary workers... I really hope that all normal-minded people will come to a different conclusion than the one arrived at by Investigative Committee officials," said Navalnaya. She is convinced that the coincidence is far from random. "They want to blackmail my son through his family so that he doesn't go on this march, and so that he stops his political activity in general." The enemies of the opposition will get no joy out of this attempt, she promised, explaining that all of Aleksei Navalny's family and friends would do all they could to support him.