Campaign diary

Raid in St. Petersburg

Polina

Police detain the coordinator of Navalny’s headquarters in St. Petersburg, Polina Kostyleva. Photo: Dave Frenkel @merr1k

by Sarah Hurst

This afternoon police in St. Petersburg raided Alexei Navalny’s campaign headquarters in St. Petersburg. They forced volunteers and journalists out of the premises and held coordinator Polina Kostyleva inside for several hours. Apparently they were trying to decide whether to charge her with disobeying police or organising an unauthorised rally. Navalny was scheduled to speak in St. Petersburg on October 7, Putin’s birthday, but has been jailed for 20 days. Now the campaign wants to hold big protests in St. Petersburg and everywhere else in Russia.

After threatening to take away Kostyleva’s children, police detained her and took her to the station at about 9 pm, having decided to charge her with organising the rally. Their excuse for the search was that they had received reports that there were leaflets in the building calling for a rally. Earlier today the campaign team in St. Petersburg posted a video on YouTube describing their efforts to obtain permission from city authorities to hold the rally. They had recorded a phone conversation in which a city official offered them two remote locations, but later another official said there was no way Navalny would be able to hold a rally anywhere. In total the city rejected 10 applications for a rally by Navalny’s team.

Shortly before midnight Kostyleva was released from the police station, with a trial scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

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