Thursday, October 5, 2023

A wave of house searches is underway in Russia – the targets are alleged associates of the politician who fled to Ukraine


Russian security officers searched homes in at least five neighborhoods on Thursday.

On Thursday, Russian security officers searched the homes of opposition leaders across the country. State news agency RIA Novosti said in the morning that the searches were aimed at individuals with ties to former Duma member Ilya Ponomariev.

Russian authorities have declared Ponomaryov, who represents the Just Russia party, a foreign agent and added him to their lists of terrorists and extremist organizations. Ponomarzov fled Russia in 2014 after being accused of embezzlement and now lives in Ukraine as a citizen of the country.

Last year, a new criminal investigation was opened against Ponomariev, accusing him of spreading “fake news” about the Russian military. They have claimed that a partisan group operating in Russia was behind both the assassination of extreme nationalist influencer Darja Dugina over the Kremlin in early May and the drone explosions seen over the Kremlin.

Read more: Alexey Navalny’s friend is getting extraordinary punishment in Russia

In its article, RIA cited Moscow politician Galina Filtchenko and Moscow State University assistant professor Mikhail Lobanov as associates of Ponomarzov who were targeted by the house searches.

Lobanov, known in Ukraine as an opponent of the war, was briefly detained, according to the Moscow Times, but has since been released.

– This morning, Moscow police arrested Mikhail Lobanov, an independent left-wing politician and trade union activist. He was taken to an undisclosed location. Lobanov’s Twitter account after his arrest stated that Mikhail staunchly opposes the war in Ukraine and fights for labor and ecological rights.

The update also denied that Lobanov was linked to Ponomarzov and accused the police of trying to establish contact by force.

The video published by RIA showed how masked members of the security forces broke down the door of Lobanov’s apartment and entered his apartment. On the door, you can still see the large Z symbol painted in February, which appeared on the doors of war opponents in Russia.

Independent Russian human rights group OVD-Info reported that the homes of Moscow politician Nodari Hananashvili and the St. Petersburg editor-in-chief of the Ladoga news site Aleksandr Kalinin were also searched.

Ponomarzov himself told the Agnestovo-Telegram channel that he did not know Lobanov or Hananashvili, and that he had never spoken directly to Kalinin.

According to Radio Free Europe, this is the third wave of house searches since last September that have targeted Russian journalists and individuals allegedly linked to Ponomarzov.

After Russia invaded Ukraine, Ponomarzov joined the Ukrainian Territorial Defense Forces and founded two YouTube channels where, among other things, he urged Russians to arm themselves and fight against the authorities in their country. requested.

In 2014, he was the only member of the Duma to vote against Russia’s illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula.

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