Former Producer Of Navalny's YouTube Channel Detained

By RFE/RL's Russian Service

MOSCOW -- Aleksei Yakovlev, a former producer of jailed Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny's Navalny LIVE YouTube channel, has been detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport.

Yakovlev's lawyer, Sergei Telnov, said on June 30 that his client was detained aboard a plane that landed in Moscow the same day and taken to the Investigative Committee for questioning as a witness in an unspecified fraud case.

In late December, the Investigative Committee said that a new criminal case had been launched against Navalny on suspicion that he and his associates misused some $4.8 million donated to his Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) by donors and supporters.

Yakovlev's detainment came a day after Russia announced that it had placed FBK director Ivan Zhdanov, who currently resides in Lithuania, on an international wanted list and had shared the details of his case with Interpol.

The FBK has relentlessly targeted senior government officials over the past decade with widely watched videos detailing corruption allegations that were distributed via the Navalny LIVE channel.

With opinion polls indicating waning support for the ruling United Russia party, authorities have ramped up pressure on dissent ahead of parliamentary elections in September.

Navalny's political network has been instrumental in implementing a "smart voting" strategy -- a project designed to promote candidates most likely to defeat Kremlin-linked figures.

A Russian court on June 9 approved a request by prosecutors to declare the FBK and other organizations linked to Navalny as "extremist."

The Moscow City Court ruling prevents people associated with the FBK and his network of regional offices across Russia from seeking public office.

The ruling also carries lengthy prison terms for activists who have worked with the organizations.

With reporting by Interfax, Open Media, and Meduza