Russian authorities are once again taking reprisals against opposition leader Alexey Navalny for his anti-corruption work and are coming to seize his property in trumped-up court case.
Welcome to our column, Russia Update, where we will be closely following day-to-day developments in Russia, including the Russian government’s foreign and domestic policies.
The previous issue is here.
The Non-Hybrid War
Kashin Explains His âLetter to Leadersâ on âFontanka Officeâ
–TV Rain Interviews Volunteer Fighter Back from Donbass
– âI Was on Active Dutyâ: Interview with Captured GRU Officer Aleksandrov
As we reported when Russia launched its offensive in Syria, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov said he was ready to send his troops into battle.
Jamestown’s North Caucasus Weekly now reports that Kadyrov has held several exercises recently to demonstrate his willingness to be involved in the Syria operation.
While waiting to see whether Chechen special forces would be sent to
Syria, Kadyrov held military exercises to show the military preparedness
of his forces. On September 30, he looked in on his “Flying Squad”
special forces unit, with his aide on cooperation with law enforcement
agencies, Daniil Martynov, saying that “just in the past two weeks, the
troops have made over forty parachute jumps. The troops acquired the
experience of landing on mountain slopes, in the forest, and in deep
snow. All officers have acquired the skills of carrying out special
operations under a variety of conditions” (Lifenews.ru, September 30).
Two days later, on October 2, large-scale counterterrorist exercises
were conducted in the village of Chervlyonnaya, in Chechnya’s
Shelkovskoi district, with the participation of the regional police and
the security services (Kavkazsky Uzel,
October 2). In September, the Southern and the North Caucasian Federal
Districts jointly held large-scale command post and special tactical
exercises in Chechnya for the first time. Media coverage primarily
focused on the counterterrorist part of the exercises (Chechnyatoday.com,
September 17). The head of the Russian Ministry of Interior’s Support
Division for the Activities of Special Forces and Aviation,
Major-General Ivan Birnik, expressed high regard for the preparedness of
the Chechen special forces. Birnik’s mission was to assess the ability
of the Chechen forces to operate in Chechnya and the North Caucasus, as
well as in a larger context inside Russia. It appears that the Russian
officials were satisfied with what they saw in Chechnya and appreciated
Kadyrov’s efforts to create special services units that are on a par
with some of the best such units in the Russian armed forces.
Martynov is a former special forces officer in the FSB’s elite Alpha Group who now serves Kadyrov.
Kadyrov also bragged about operations he has ordered outside of Chechnya, Jamestown reports:
Kadyrov has indicated that the Chechen special services carry out more
operations than those officially reported. Chechnya’s governor said his
government works outside Chechnya to identify terrorists and Islamic
State recruiters. “We send people to fetch them from Syria. We return
those who have not reached their destination and did not participate [in
military action],” Kadyrov said (Rusnovosti.ru, October 2).
Read more here and article about how Circassians in Russia are intensifying their efforts to demand repatriation of their co-ethnics in Syria and how Dagestanis who fought in Syria and returned home to Russia are accused of killing 5 hunters.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick
The Federal Bailiffs’ Service (FSS) has issued a statement that Navalny cannot leave the country as he has not paid the alleged damages in a court ruling against both Navalny and his brother Oleg which were ostensibly sought on behalf of Yves Roches, a French company that in fact says it has no claims against the Navalnys.
The court ruled that the Navalnys must pay 4.5 million rubles ($72,845); Alexey Navalny has paid 3 million rubles ($48,563) but says he doesn’t have any more funds and asked for an extension.
The FSS says that the order not to leave the country came after an agent came to Navalny’s home to collect the payment and he said he didn’t have it and drove away.
Navalny’s lawyer Vadim Kobzev has pointed out that he was already barred from travel abroad due to two suspended sentences in cases widely believed to be fabricated as punishment for his exposure of official corruption.
Translation: the battle with state enemy no. 1 continues. The
bailiffs reported that they will come to seize property from @navalny
apartment on Monday.
Translation: We asked for an extension for the remaining sum but the bailiffs decided that it’s more important for them to rummage among the things of Navalny’s family and hurried with the seizure.
Navalny joked about the decision in a blog post titled “I Don’t Have a Cat But You Can Seize My Hamster” — warning that the hamster bites.
Recently, a law was passed that seemed aimed particularly at Navalny’s exposes.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick