They are eight TV presenters who became accused again a few days ago. Russia claims they spread “falsifications” about the Russian military and justified terrorism. The eight people host a show distributed on YouTube – “Popular Politics”.
They are the closest activists of opposition leader Alexei Navalny – Ivan Zhdanov, Kira Yarmish, Maria Pevchih, Anna Biryukova, Ruslan Shavedinov, Leonid Volkov, Dmitry Nizovtsev and Lyubov Sobol.
They laugh at the case brought against them – not because they are abroad, where the Kremlin cannot arrest them, but because this case is just one of many that are being brought against them. None of them deny that they use laughter only as a defensive weapon. Otherwise, the news from Moscow that affects them personally is a serious matter.
“We are now all facing up to 10 years in prison. I know for sure that we only spoke the truth, which the Kremlin denies. So I’m proud of us – this is a recognition of our work,” Yarmish wrote on his Telegram channel.
In May of this year, a Moscow court ordered Volkov, Sobol, Zhdanov and lawyer Vyacheslav Ghimadi to be arrested in absentia on charges of fraud and creating an extremist community after they managed to leave Russia.
In 2021, Kira Yarmish – Navalny’s spokeswoman, and Lyubov Sobol – his lawyer Anti-Corruption Fund (FBK), were first sentenced to a year and a half house arrest, without the right to telephone and internet, in the so-called “sanitary case”. They were found guilty of inciting to violate the measures due to the coronavirus. The occasion was a publication for a rally in support of Navalny. Then the court obliged them to report to the inspector every month and prohibited them from changing their permanent residence, traveling outside Moscow and the region and attending mass events.
In 2022, however, the court aggravated the sentence, replacing it with an effective one – Yarmish was sentenced to 9 months in a penal colony, and Sobol to 4 months of correctional labor.
Together with them, Navalny’s brother was sentenced – Oleg Navalny – he was first given 1 year probation which later became a 1 year effective sentence. He also managed to leave Russia. But none of them can return to their homeland under the threat of imprisonment.
On August 28, the journalist from the opposition newspaper “Novaya Gazeta” and co-founder of the scientific network Dissernet was detained in Moscow – Andrei Zayakin. A criminal case was opened against him for financing an extremist organization after he transferred 1,000 rubles to Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Fund. The court banned him from performing certain acts that were not reported. Zayakin could receive up to 8 years in prison.
Navalny awaiting an even longer sentence
Russian authorities apparently want to keep the Kremlin’s biggest critic in prison for almost life. In May of this year, a new criminal case was opened against him, in which he is threatened with up to 15 years in prison. They will be added to the 9-year sentence he is currently serving. The new charge against Navalny is for creating an extremist organization and inciting hatred towards the authorities.
In January last year, Navalny voluntarily returned to Russia after an attempt was made to poison him with a nerve agent from the group “Novichok”. He was arrested at the airport and soon sentenced to 2.5 years in a labor camp.
The formal reason was that he did not appear for a signature on an old suspended sentence, although at the time Navalny was fighting for his life in hospital after the poisoning. While the case was going on, FBK published the film “Palace for Putin” – about the huge mansion on the Black Sea coast.
After this sentence came a new one – 9 years of imprisonment in a colony with a strict regime for “theft of foreign property in particularly large amounts by fraud”. A contempt of court sentence was also added.
“Extremists” in Russia, free in the West
The possibility that Navalny could be charged and tried for extremism was ensured by the Russian authorities in June 2021, when the court declared all organizations associated with him to be “extremist”. In addition to being expunged, the decision banned anyone associated with them throughout Russia from running for public office.
This has become another step to limit the possibility of Kremlin critics to participate in the upcoming parliamentary elections in September. Earlier, the Russian parliament approved a law banning members of “extremist” organizations from running in elections.
The decision also brought long prison sentences for activists who worked with the organizations.
However, in July of this year, Navalny’s Twitter and Telegram accounts announced the creation of a new, this time international, Anti-Corruption Fund. Its advisory board includes famous personalities such as Francis Fukuyama, journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner Ann Applebaum, former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt and Navalny’s wife, Yulia Navalna.
The first funds of the new fund will come from the 50,000-euro Sakharov prize for freedom of thought awarded to Navalny last year, but donations will also be needed.
The millions of children of Shoigu’s deputy
The latest investigation by Navalny’s team revealed that the children of Russia’s First Deputy Defense Minister – Ruslan Tsalikovown properties worth 1.1 billion rubles, which they bought through their companies.
His daughters – 27-year-old Julia and 25-year-old Elisaveta – are the founders of the company Tectum. It is not known what exactly she does, but according to state records, through her they bought premises in the Moscow business center “Crosswall Khamovniki” for 132 million rubles and several offices for a total of 85 million rubles.
The sons of Sergei Shoigu’s deputy, Daniel and Zaur, also own expensive real estate. In 2021, the brothers bought two plots of land in the village of Krasnoe near Domodedovo for 260 million rubles each with their company Dominus Zed. One of them has already been sold. They also own five offices in Moscow for 400 million rubles everyone.
The official salaries of Tsalikov’s heirs do not allow them to buy such expensive properties. Daniel works in the state corporation Rostec and receives 5 million per year. And Zaur – in a utility meter company, and officially earns 2 million a year.
Earlier, Navalny’s team established that Ruslan Tsalikov himself owns land with a house in the village of Razdori in Rublyovka, the price of which exceeds 3.5 billion rubles. Thus, in total, the family owns property worth almost 5 billion rubles.
200 “starters” of war
On August 30, associates of Alexei Navalny published an abridged version of the list they had previously compiled of 6,000 people who support the Putin regime. The new list contains 200 names and is said to have been drawn up at the request of the British Foreign Office. It includes “the main ‘instigators’ of the war against whom sanctions should be imposed in the first place”. These are persons against whom the UK has not yet imposed such measures.
Among them are military personnel, ministers, MPs, law enforcement officials, oligarchs and media representatives, whom Navalny’s associates call propagandists.
In the first place are 6 names. These are the Minister of Finance and a member of the Security Council of Russia Anton SiluanovPutin’s assistant Vladimir Medinsky, the head of the Bank of Russia Elvira Nabiulina, the businessman Iskandar Mahmudov and the employees of the federal television channels Ekaterina Andreeva and Tina Kandelaki.
The list also includes the actor Marat Basharov, the singers Nikolay Baskov and Philip Kirkorovthe singer Yulia Chicherina, the ideologist of the “Russian World” Alexander Duginwhose daughter was killed in a bomb attack, MP Adam Delimkhanov, entrepreneur and alleged close friend of the president Svetlana Krivonogikh.
The publication of the initial list caused controversy because it included a number of individuals who later publicly condemned the war, so some of them were removed.
A former activist of Navalny admitted that he was recruited by the FSB
Meanwhile, evidence emerges that the Russian services managed to recruit an associate of Alexei Navalny. Former activist in Udmurtia Mikhail Sokolov, who left Russia a few months ago, admitted that he worked as an informant for the Federal Security Service (FSB).
Sokolov, who is currently in a refugee camp in the Netherlands, said he was recruited before joining Navalny’s staff in 2016. He was only 19 at the time and tried to avoid conscription. The FSB offered him not to serve against cooperation, for which he had to sign a document stating that he was doing so voluntarily. He also received 10,000 rubles per month.
First, he had to alert intelligence officials to planned protests. A year later, when Sokolov became executive director of the Foundation for Legal Support of Citizens, linked to Navalny’s headquarters, the FSB tasked him with reporting on the sources of funding. Later, it was the “theft” allegedly discovered in the fund that became one of the charges against Navalny.
Sokolov claimed he was “tired” of working for the FSB and in 2019 tried to leave Russia but was stopped at the Polish-Belarusian border. In 2021, after Navalny’s organizations were declared “extremist”, the FSB still helped him move to Georgia. However, the start of the war in Ukraine was the “last straw” for him. He refused to work for them and fled in the Netherlands, where he is now seeking political asylum.