Police visits of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s supporters have spread to St. Petersburg, Russian media reported early Friday after rights activists said several hundred Moscow residents were subjected to similar visits recently.
At least 1,200 Moscow-based Navalny supporters whose addresses leaked online were visited by law enforcement authorities in the past two weeks, according to the OVD-Info police-monitoring website. Several of them said the plainclothes officers offered to file a statement against Navalny over the illegal collection of personal data.
The Znak.com news website said it was contacted by a St. Petersburg resident who reported that men in civilian clothes came to his home late Thursday.
“Your personal data was leaked, do you want to punish the perpetrators?” the alleged law enforcement officers were quoted as saying.
The unnamed Navalny supporter told Znak.com that he refused to open the door, fearing that the visitors may have been criminals.
Police have reportedly been making the unsolicited visits after several databases of Navalny’s “Smart Voting” initiative and a website calling for his release from jail appeared online this spring and summer.
These 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.
Authorities on Aug. 11 filed a new criminal charge against the Russian opposition leader on “creating a nonprofit organization that infringes on the identities and rights of citizens.”
The new charges, which accuse Navalny of “encouraging citizens to commit illegal acts,” risk extending his current 2.5-year prison sentence on old fraud charges — which he calls politically motivated — by up to three more years.
Navalny’s team rejected the accusations as “stupid” and called on supporters to vote against ruling party candidates in key parliamentary elections next month using its “Smart Voting” strategy.