Cat Named for Navalny 'Held for Ransom' (Photo)

A photo of Ochinskaya's cat that was e-mailed to its distressed owner Tuesday.

Perhaps Moscow has never witnessed a stranger kidnapping.

A young Moscow film producer is appealing for help on Facebook after a cat named for opposition leader Alexei Navalny was apparently kidnapped for a ransom of 5,000 rubles ($155).

The cat's owner, Tatyana Ochinskaya, said Wednesday that the cat disappeared a week ago while walking in the courtyard near her apartment building.

Ochinskaya said a woman subsequently called her by telephone to demand that 5,000 rubles be deposited in a Russian Standard bank account if she wanted to reclaim the animal. Ochinskaya's phone number was written on the cat's collar.

"Some kind of deranged woman has kidnapped my cat and is exhorting money from me," Ochinskaya said on her Facebook page early Wednesday.

After contacting the police, she said she was at a loss over what to do. She said the police had submitted requests for information to Russian Standard and Beeline, the provider of the cell phone number used by the female caller, and were waiting for a reply.

In the meantime, Ochinskaya said, she received an e-mailed photo on Tuesday of her cat standing next to an open laptop computer displaying Moscow's date and time — an indication that the animal was still alive.

She said the caller had refused to meet in person, and she feared that she would never see her cat again if she didn't find the address of the kidnapper's apartment.

"I need help finding a street address through the bank, Beeline or the IP address," she said.

The cat was named "Navalny" in support of the anti-corruption blogger, and Ochinskaya placed a sticker supporting him on its collar, Afisha magazine reported. But after Navalny lost the Moscow mayoral election to pro-Kremlin candidate Sergei Sobyanin on Sept. 8, Ochinskaya renamed the cat Lisenka, or Young Fox.

Ochinskaya was gaining significant sympathy on Facebook, with her appeal collecting more than 500 shares and dozens of comments within the 13 hours of her posting it. Several national media outlets also were reporting the story.

This is not the only cat linked to Navalny. A blogger going by the name Navalny Cat runs a Twitter account with more than 3,700 followers.

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