Russian authorities on Friday cracked down on allies of jailed Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny and jailed his spokeswoman for nine days as police vowed to suppress protests this weekend.
Allies of President Vladimir Putin’s top critics are planning to hold demonstrations on Saturday in dozens of cities in support of the opposition politician, who was arrested and held behind bars on his return to Russia following a near-fatal poisoning with a nerve agent.
The last time major protests took place in Moscow was in the summer of 2019, and the Saturday rallies are expected to be a major test of the opposition’s ability to mobilise support despite the increasing Kremlin pressure and the coronavirus pandemic.
Police said unsanctioned public events will be “immediately suppressed,” as key opposition activists were detained on the eve of the rallies.
Mr. Navalny’s spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh, 31, who spent the night in detention, was sentenced to nine days in jail for violating legislation on public gatherings after a hearing that lasted less than five minutes, her lawyer Veronika Polyakova said.
Another activist, Georgy Alburov, said he expected to be jailed for 10 days.
Key Navalny ally Lyubov Sobol is accused of repeatedly violating legislation on public gatherings, which carries a maximum fine of up to 3,00,000 rubles ($4,000), her lawyer Vladimir Voronin said. A number of Mr. Navalny’s associates were detained in the province.