Russia desires Navalny ally arrested overseas; Lithuania refuses


Watch: Russia points arrest warrant for Alexei Navalny ally Leonid Volkov

MOSCOW (AP) — A Moscow court docket on Wednesday ordered the arrest of a high ally of Russian opposition chief Alexei Navalny, however Lithuania, the place the affiliate lives, bluntly rejected the demand to take him into custody.

The motion towards Leonid Volkov by the Basmanny District Court was seen as a part of an effort by authorities to squelch demonstrations demanding the discharge of Navalny, a high Kremlin foe who has been jailed since Jan. 17.

Volkov, a chief strategist for Navalny, was charged with encouraging minors to participate in unauthorized rallies, which may land him in jail for as much as three years. He had already been placed on a global wished record.

Volkov, who has lived overseas since 2019, has rejected the costs, and Lithuania’s authorities has refused to hold out the Russian court docket’s order.

“Using international tools for politically motivated prosecution is a wrong practice,“ Lithuanian Interior minister Agne Bilotaite said.

“This raises serious doubts about Russia‘s membership in these organizations,“ she said, referring to the Russian arrest warrant sent through Interpol.

Navalny, 44, an anti-corruption investigator who is Russian President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent critic, was arrested upon returning from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from a nerve-agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin. Russian authorities have rejected the accusation.

Protests across Russia drew tens of thousands of people to the streets for two straight weekends in January in the largest show of discontent in years. More protests rocked Moscow and St. Petersburg after a Moscow court on Feb. 2 sentenced Navalny to two years and eight months in prison for violating terms of his probation while recuperating in Germany.

That stems from a 2014 embezzlement conviction that Navalny has rejected as fabricated and the European Court of Human Rights has ruled to be unlawful. He described his new imprisonment as “Putin’s personal revenge” for surviving and exposing the assassination plot.

The authorities responded to protests with a sweeping crackdown, detaining about 11,000 individuals throughout Russia, a lot of whom had been later fined or handed jail sentences starting from 7 to 15 days. They even have moved to isolate key members of Navalny’s crew, placing a number of of his high associates underneath home arrests for 2 months with out entry to the web.

In a shift of technique amid the crackdown, Volkov mentioned final week that the pro-Navalny demonstrations ought to pause till the spring, arguing that an try to take care of rallies every weekend would solely result in hundreds extra arrests and put on out members.

On Tuesday, nevertheless, he introduced a brand new type of protest, urging residents of huge cities to briefly collect in residential courtyards on Sunday with their cellphone flashlights turned on. He argued that the brand new techniques — much like ones utilized by anti-government protesters in neighboring Belarus — would stop Russian riot police from interfering and permit extra individuals to take part with out fearing repressions. The Belarus protests observe the reelection in August of the nation’s longtime autocratic President Alexander Lukashenko in balloting extensively seen as rigged.

Navalny’s arrest and the crackdown on protests has additional stoked tensions between Russia and the West. The United States and the European Union have urged Russia to launch Navalny, however the Kremlin has accused them of meddling in Russia’s inside affairs and warned that it gained’t hearken to Western criticism of Navalny’s sentencing and police actions towards his supporters.


Associated Press author Liudas Dapkus in Vilnius, Lithuania, contributed.

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