Major backer breaks ties with Navalny Associates

One of the staunch supporters of the imprisoned Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny says she was “disappointed” with the Kremlin critic’s companions in exile and cut ties with them when the country went to polling stations.

Anastasia Vasilyeva, head of the NGO Physicians’ Alliance, accused Navalny’s now defunct Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) of leaving her and her team without any support after “using” them, saying that Navalny’s associate Leonid Volkov, Ivan Zhdanov and Maria Pevchikh, who currently lives outside Russia, “are ruining everything we once created”.

“I am very disappointed. The Foundation’s managers are now destroying what we have all worked so hard for,” she wrote on September 16 in a Facebook post.

“Now they are [Navalny’s associates] are in Europe and a certain someone [Navalny] finds himself in prison. See the difference Those who believed in him now face criminal prosecution. And if they lock these people up, no one will remember them, ”she added, without going into detail about what was destroyed.

Vasilyeva’s posting sparked a heated reaction on the Internet. Many believed she was forced to make the statement on the eve of the general election as the Kremlin-backed ruling party, whose support has collapsed, seeks to retain power.

Vasilyeva, who is known to play the piano when police ransacked her home during a raid on Navalny and his allies last year, is under increasing pressure from the authorities.

WATCH: Navalny supporters defiantly plays the piano as Russian police raid their home

In March, the Medical Alliance was placed on the state’s controversial “foreign agent” list, used to block surveillance groups and the media, disqualify prominent opposition candidates, evict opposition leaders from the country, and restrict access to volunteers and fundraising for each person or group placed on it.

On September 1, Moscow police arrested her and took her to a court hearing to face charges of alleged violating restrictive measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

The hearing appears to never have taken place, although several of Nawalny’s staff and supporters involved in the case have been tried and given suspended sentences for publicly calling for unauthorized rallies in support of the Kremlin critic in January .

Some compared the situation of Vasilyeva to that of Belarusian blogger Raman Pratasevich, once a critic of his country’s strong leader, Aljaksandr Lukashenka, and his crackdown on the opposition.

Pratasevich was arrested with his girlfriend in Minsk on May 23 after Belarusian authorities forced their Ryanair flight from Athens to Vilnius to land in the Belarusian capital. He later changed his public attitudes and views on the political situation in Belarus, a move that many opposition leaders believe was taken under duress.

Navalny returned to Russia earlier this year after receiving treatment in Germany for neurotoxicity which he believed had been carried out by Russian security agents at Putin’s orders.

Navalny was arrested and subsequently sentenced to two and a half years in prison for a parole violation that he describes as absurd.

Thousands of Russians were arrested during nationwide protests demanding his release, and later the FBK and its network of regional offices were closed as “extremist” organizations.

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