Police in Moscow have begun visiting addresses of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s supporters that had been leaked online, Russian media reported late Tuesday.
At least one Navalny supporter was reportedly asked to file a statement against the opposition leader over the illegal collection of personal data days after authorities filed a new criminal charge against him on the “infringement on the rights of ciitzens.”
Police visited at least 30 Moscow residents' addresses that were leaked online, according to the OVD-Info independent police-monitoring website.
The supporters included individuals who had donated to Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), which disbanded ahead of a court ruling declaring it “extremist” earlier this summer. They also included people who had registered with his “Smart Voting” election initiative as well as a website calling for his release from jail.
Donations to entities on Russia's “extremist” organizations list are illegal.
“The police came in civilian clothes and introduced themselves as criminal investigators. They demanded explanations about donations to the FBK and appearance in the database,” OVD-Info reported.
“One person told us that the police really wanted to get a statement against Alexei Navalny for the illegal transfer of personal data.”
OVD-Info reported that the officer did not disclose how they had obtained the addresses of the Navalny supporters they were visiting.
The Kommersant business daily reported that a leaked database of the “Smart Voting” project appeared online this week. That leak followed a “Smart Voting” leak in June and a free.navalny.com leak in April, according to the Meduza news website.
Tikhon Dzyadko, chief editor of the independent Dozhd broadcaster, tweeted that the police visits were in alphabetical order and began with those whose names start with “A.”
Russian authorities last Wednesday charged Navalny with the crime of “creating a nonprofit organization that infringes on the identities and rights of citizens,” accusing him of “encouraging citizens to commit illegal acts.” The new charges risk extending Navalny’s current 2.5-year prison sentence on old fraud charges — which he calls trumped up — by up to three more years.
Navalny’s team rejected the accusations as “stupid” and called on supporters to vote against ruling party candidates at high-stakes parliamentary elections next month using the “Smart Voting” strategy.