RFE/RL – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (Autor)
A Russian court has placed Kira Yarmysh, the press secretary of opposition politician Aleksei Navalny, under house arrest until March 23 as a "restraining measure."
The Basmanny district court on February 1 approved the measure as requested by Russia's Investigative Committee, saying Yarmysh had violated health and safety measures enacted to stem the spread of the coronavirus by calling for mass protests to support the Kremlin critic and anti-corruption campaigner.
Yarmysh and several other Navalny associates were originally detained on January 21 and charged with calling for the unsanctioned rallies on January 23. On January 22, a court ruled she should be held in jail for nine days.
Oleg Navalny, Aleksei's brother; Lyubov Sobol, a lawyer of Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK); and Oleg Stepanov, the coordinator of Navalny's Moscow headquarters, have already been placed under house arrest until March 23 on similar charges.
Navalny was arrested on January 17 -- and later sent to pretrial detention -- upon his arrival from Germany, where he was treated for a poison attack in Siberia in August 2020, for which he has blamed the Kremlin. The Kremlin has denied any involvement.
Navalny was charged with violating probation related to an embezzlement case that he has called politically motivated.
A court will hold a hearing on February 2 to hear arguments on whether to change Navalny's suspended 3 1/2-year sentence, which ended on December 31, into real jail time.
Navalny’s team called for mass rallies across Russia on January 23 to protest his arrest and detention.
Tens of thousands heeded the call and took to the streets across the country, and then again on January 31.
Police have cracked down on the protesters, detaining thousands of them -- sometimes using brutal force -- on both days.
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