Russia extends house arrest of Navalny’s spokesperson

A Russian court has ordered jailed Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny’s spokesperson Kira Yarmysh to be held under house arrest pending trial until January next year, her lawyer and allies said.

Russia has cracked down hard on the opposition in advance of parliamentary elections in September. Most of Navalny’s prominent allies have either left Russia or are facing prosecution.

The 31-year-old has been under house arrest since February after authorities accused her of breaching coronavirus restrictions at a protest in support of the jailed Kremlin critic. She has said the charges are politically motivated.

Yarmysh has been Navalny’s spokesperson since 2014, after working with him when he ran in a Moscow mayoral election.

“They’ve extended her house arrest for six months! Until January 6 2022,” Veronika Polyakova, Yarmysh’s lawyer, wrote on Twitter after the court decision on Wednesday.

The arrest of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny, centre, led to protests across Russia that proved to be the biggest show of defiance against the Kremlin in years [File: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images]

Navalny’s allies said on Twitter that the ruling looked like part of a strategy to keep opposition figures like Yarmysh under house arrest “eternally”.

The Kremlin said it does not interfere in the work of the courts and that they are guided strictly by the letter of the law.

Navalny jailing

Navalny was arrested in January upon returning from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from a nerve agent poisoning that he blamed on the Kremlin – an accusation that Russian officials have rejected.

His arrest led to protests across Russia that proved to be the biggest show of defiance against the Kremlin in years.

But they did not stop authorities from putting Navalny on trial for alleged parole violations of a 2014 embezzlement conviction that he has dismissed as fabricated.

Navalny was subsequently found guilty of violating the terms of his suspended sentence and was ordered to serve two and a half years in prison.

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