by Sarah Hurst
Alexei Navalny’s campaign chief, Leonid Volkov, has been sentenced to 30 days in prison for trying to organise a rally in Nizhny Novgorod that was abandoned because Navalny himself was arrested on the day when it was due to be held. Volkov previously served 20 days in prison for the same rally, but that sentence was handed down by a court in Moscow; today he was on trial in Nizhny Novgorod.
Volkov believes that the Kremlin wants him in prison in the most important period of Navalny’s campaign – the time when presidential candidates must officially register by providing 300,000 verified signatures in their support. Navalny is banned from the election because of his suspended sentence in a fabricated case, but plans to demand his registration. Last night on his live YouTube show he answered people who have asked him what they should do at polling stations if he isn’t on the ballot on March 18: “You can buy the pies that they have on sale there.”
After the verdict, Volkov tweeted that the judge had considered his case for just 10 minutes, and that his baby son Mark is 24 days old, so he will be in prison for more than half of his life (he has already served four days of the latest sentence). “This is how afraid of us they are,” he tweeted. “It means, of course, that everything is in our hands, we’re on the right path. I’ve taken a lot of books with me, await my report.”
“That judge himself will go to prison. And not for 30 days,” Navalny tweeted. “The man has a newborn in his family, they could have taken that into account. Damn bastards.”
Meanwhile, this evening in Moscow Vladimir Putin will triumphantly hold the draw for World Cup 2018, which is being overseen by Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, who organised a doping programme during the Sochi Olympics that has resulted in dozens of Russian athletes losing their medals and being banned from the Olympics for life.
Categories: Campaign diary