Campaign diary

Navalny’s supporters in St. Petersburg jailed

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Ilya Gantvarg in court today. Photo: George Markov/@pixsl_markov

by Sarah Hurst

Five supporters of Alexei Navalny in St. Petersburg were given jail sentences today, ostensibly for “violations” during the protest against Vladimir Putin’s rigged re-election on January 28. Alexander Mironov was jailed for 15 days, Yekaterina Shlikhta, Ilya Gantvarg and Viktor Cherkassky for 10 days, and Sergei Belyayev for seven days. This means that none of them will be able to participate in the planned vote monitoring on Sunday.

A few days ago Gantvarg and others also participated in a march in the costumes of prisoners with the names of already-jailed St. Petersburg activists on signs around their necks. The city’s law-enforcement authorities had published a list of 20 opposition activists they wanted to round up ahead of the election, and some are already in prison. Other activists have been physically attacked and one, Konstantin Sinitsin, was beaten to death in the entrance to the building where he lived on January 26.

Stakes high

Police have also visited several of Navalny’s other campaign offices around Russia in the past few days, intimidated activists and confiscated leaflets calling for a boycott of the election. In some regions people have been offered enticements such as cheap food to come to the polls. And a new documentary praising Putin has been released on YouTube.

This all takes place against the backdrop of a full-scale confrontation between Russia and the West over the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury on March 4. The two are still in hospital in critical condition and may never recover from the attack that Theresa May has said was caused by the nerve agent Novichok, produced in Russia. Today it was announced that another Russian, the late Boris Berezovsky’s associate Nikolai Glushkov, had been found dead in his home in London. Russia has been given until midnight to explain how the nerve agent could have been used in Salisbury, but Sergei Lavrov has already said that the ultimatum will be ignored. Tomorrow May is expected to announce Britain’s response to the Russian terrorism.

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