Russia detains Navalny's allies, warns social networks
MOSCOW (AP) — Russian authorities on Thursday detained several allies of opposition leader Alexei Navalny and issued warnings to social media giants after tens of thousands of people took to the streets in over 100 Russian cities last weekend to demand his release.
The detention of Navalny's brother Oleg, his top ally Lyubov Sobol, Dr. Anastasia Vasilyeva from the Navalny-backed Alliance of Doctors and Maria Alyokhina from the Pussy Riot punk collective comes as authorities try to stem another wave of protests set for Sunday.
All four were detained for 48 hours as part of a criminal probe into alleged violations of coronavirus regulations during the weekend's protests.
The 44-year-old Navalny, the most well-known critic of President Vladimir Putin's government, was arrested Jan. 17 upon his return from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from nerve-agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin. Russian authorities have rejected the accusations.
A court in Moscow is to consider his appeal against the arrest later on Thursday.
The overnight detentions came after more than a dozen searches of apartments and offices of Navalny's family, associates and supporters in connection to the probe. Those sites included Navalny’s apartment, where police detained his brother, and a rented apartment where Navalny’s wife, Yulia, has been living.
Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the searches and detentions were a legitimate part of police efforts to investigate the alleged violations during Saturday's rallies.
“Law enforcement agencies are doing their job,” Peskov said in a conference call with reporters. “There were numerous violations of Russian laws, and law enforcement agencies are at work.”
Russian prosecutors on Thursday also issued warnings to...