Just days after Vladimir Putin reportedly discussed opposition leader and activist Alexei Navalny’s treatment while under arrest in Russia with President Joe Biden, the Russian president reportedly doubled down on his efforts to crush his rivals and Russia’s burgeoning anti-government movement.
“A Russian court on Thursday rejected an appeal by opposition leader Alexei Navalny for his release from jail, while authorities detained several of his allies and warned social media companies about promoting more protests after tens of thousands rallied across the country last weekend demanding his freedom,” the Associated Press reported on Thursday.
“Appearing in court by video link from jail, Navalny denounced the criminal proceedings against him as part of a government campaign to intimidate the opposition,” the outlet continued.
Navalny was arrested earlier in January after returning to Russia following what appeared to be an assassination attempt against him. He spent just under five months recovering from a nerve-agent poisoning in Germany, the second such poisoning he’s suffered since becoming a key figure in opposing Putin.
The Russian court hearing Navalny’s claims rejected his appeal based on evidence that Navalny had not checked in with his probation officer while he was in Germany. Navalny’s lawyers noted that Navalny was, at the time, in a coma.
In addition to keeping Navalny in prison, Russian officials also rounded up a number of his associates, including his brother, in an apparent effort to end Navalny’s anti-government efforts.
“Russian authorities on Thursday detained several allies of opposition leader Alexei Navalny and issued warnings to social media giants after tens of thousands of people took to the streets in over 100 Russian cities last weekend to demand his release,” the AP reported. “The detention of Navalny’s brother Oleg, his top ally Lyubov Sobol, Dr. Anastasia Vasilyeva from the Navalny-backed Alliance of Doctors, and Maria Alyokhina from the Pussy Riot punk collective comes as authorities try to stem another wave of protests set for Sunday.”
Last weekend, thousands of people took to the streets of Moscow and dozens of other Russian cities, agitating for Navalny’s release. As The Daily Wire reported, Russian police arrested dozens of demonstrators and quelled the marches with what witnesses described as lethal force. Journalists were arrested, as was anyone who tried to give an interview on the protests to global media.
“Moscow police said 267 people were convicted of violations during the weekend demonstrations in the capital, and 110 of them were given short jail terms,” the AP noted. “It issued a notice to the public not to join Sunday’s protests, warning that officers would act resolutely to disperse unsanctioned rallies and bring participants to justice.”
The Russian government is taking their control efforts a step further this time, demanding that social media platforms censor information about the protests or face repercussions. Russia’s “state communications watchdog Roskomnadzor said it would fine Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube, and two Russian social networks for their failure to block calls on minors to join Saturday’s protests.”
Biden reportedly spoke with Putin about Navalny earlier this week, though details of the call are scarce. The Washington Post reported that “Biden laid out a bill of complaint against Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, airing allegations of human rights abuses, cyberspying and more while making a hard pivot away from the deference that former president Donald Trump often displayed toward Russia.”