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Leonid Volkov sentenced to 20 days in jail

May 22, 2019

Leonid Volkov, a senior aide to Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, has been sentenced to 20 days in jail over a rally organized last year. Volkov told people to keep fighting for freedom of expression.

Leonid Volkov in court in Moscow
Image: Sergey Dik

Leonid Volkov was sentenced on Wednesday to 20 days of administrative detention in connection to a protest on September 9, 2018, against the raising the pension age.  

"This story is important to understand more about how media and politics work together in some places of this world these days," he told DW in an exclusive interview from the courthouse, adding that he was disappointed not to be able to attend DW's Global Media Forum.

"Keep fighting for freedom of the press and freedom of political expression," Volkov added.

Volkov speaks to DW

Volkov was taken into custody on Tuesday under Article 20.2.8. It allows for administrative detention for the "repeated violation of the established procedure of organizing or holding meetings, rallies, demonstrations, marches or picketing."

Navalny also said on Twitter that police had "detained him with the words 'we've been waiting for you for a long time.'" 

Last September, thousands of Russians took to the streets protesting the government's attempt to increase the retirement age. Authorities detained hundreds of demonstrators. Navalny also served two stints in jail for violating protest laws last year.

By arresting Volkov months after the protests the Russian government is engaging in a "psychological battle" with the opposition, said Elmar Brok, a CDU member of the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee.

"It gives the impression that at any moment the long arm of the FSB security service can get you when they want," he told DW. "It’s a strategy to demoralize the opposition."

Read more: Moscow protesters rally against Russia's 'online Iron Curtain'

Navalny, a lawyer-turned-political campaigner, has organized some of the biggest protests against Russian President Vladimir Putin in recent years. He came to prominence in 2008, when his blog exposing malpractice in Russian politics and among the nation's major state-owned firms came to the public's attention. 

Navalny's anti-corruption rhetoric is hugely popular among younger people who follow his online channels and blogs. 

sri/sms (AFP, Moscow Times)

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