The Basmanniy District Court of Moscow had ordered the arrest in absentia of four associates of the imprisoned Russian opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, the Moscow Courts of General Jurisdiction's press service reported on Jan. 29.
The chairperson of Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation (ACF), Maria Pevchikh, Navalny's spokesperson, Kira Yarmysh, Russian journalist Dmitry Nizovtsev, and the head of the ACF's public opinion research, Anna Biryukova, are on the court's list.
All the Russian oppositionists arrested in absentia live abroad and are accused of organizing an extremist organization. Moscow listed the ACF as an "undesirable organization" last June and declared it a "foreign agent" in December 2022.
Pevchikh, a former head of the ACF investigation department, is also charged with vandalism and spreading fake news about the military, which usually implies information challenging the official position of Russia’s government about the war in Ukraine.
Yarmysh and Nizovtsev are accused of spreading fake news about the army as well, and Biryukova is charged with justifying terrorism. Russia often uses false criminal charges to repress domestic opposition.
The proceedings on fake news and terrorism justification were launched in August 2022, and the proceedings on organizing an extremist organization involving the ACF and Navalny’s headquarters began before the Russian full-scale invasion.
Navalny remains in a penal colony in a remote settlement north of the Arctic Circle, with "tough conditions" and limited access to correspondence, according to Russian authorities.
The Russian oppositionist was sentenced to 19 years of imprisonment on "extremism" charges in August 2020. He denies all the accusations.