by Sarah Hurst
Unexpectedly, Alexei Navalny’s campaign chief Leonid Volkov was released from prison this morning, a few days into his 20-day sentence. Volkov was sentenced along with Navalny for “calling for unauthorised rallies” and had announced a hunger strike. There was speculation on social media that the Kremlin might have ordered his release after finding out from Navalny’s blog post that Volkov’s wife is about to give birth soon.
Volkov himself tweeted that he didn’t know what had happened, but that the case was being returned to Nizhny Novgorod, where he was detained while preparing for a rally. He also tweeted that while waiting for trial in Moscow he had been held in a cell with iron rings for torture, which authorities deny the existence of, but that had been written about in the media.
Without having a chance to celebrate, Volkov was detained again on the steps of the court that had ordered his release, and taken to a police station. His phone was confiscated and he was told that he was being charged with calling for an unauthorised protest on October 7 (from prison, presumably). At about 7.30 pm the Navalny campaign’s lawyer, Ivan Zhdanov, tweeted that Volkov would be held overnight at the police station.
Soon afterwards plans changed again and Volkov was transported to court for a trial that began after 9 pm and ended at about midnight. His alleged crime was to have retweeted Navalny’s blog post calling for protests on October 7, and also Navalny’s statement at his trial. Volkov was found guilty and sentenced to 20 days in prison once again. The judge asked him if he understood the decision, and he replied: “I understand that you have no conscience.”
Categories: Campaign diary