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Russia froze Navalny assets after poisoning, his aide says

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was detained during May 5 anti-Putin rally, arrives at the courthouse in Moscow on May 15, 2018.<br />Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on May 15, 2018 appeared in court over nationwide demonstrations on May 5 that saw hundreds arrested as they protested Vladimir Putin’s inauguration for a fourth term. Navalny faces charges of organising an illegal protest and of disobeying police orders, which could see him jailed for up to two months or forced to pay a fine. / AFP PHOTO / Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV


A Russian court froze the assets of opposition leader Alexei Navalny while he was in a coma in a German hospital, his spokeswoman said on Thursday.

The politician and anti-corruption campaigner’s spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said in a video statement that on August 27, “bailiffs announced a ban” on transactions involving his share in a flat in a Moscow suburb.

“At the same time, Alexei’s accounts were frozen,” she said.

The legal move against Navalny means his family’s flat in a multi-storey block in southeastern Moscow cannot be sold, given as a present or used to take out a mortgage, Yarmysh said.

She told AFP the move did not prevent Navalny from living there.

He fell ill on August 20 on a plane and was taken to hospital in a coma in Siberia for two days before being flown out to Berlin, where tests found he had been poisoned with Novichok nerve agent.

The German hospital announced he had emerged from a coma on September 7.

His allies and top international officials have said the onus is on Russia to prove that the poisoning was not state ordered and hold a proper investigation, while Russia argues it needs evidence from tests in Germany and other countries to do so.

Doctors at Berlin’s Charite hospital said on Wednesday that Navalny had been discharged. He will stay in Germany for now to continue treatment as an out-patient.

The Kremlin said on Wednesday that Navalny was free to return to Russia.

Yarmysh told AFP earlier that the politician intends to return to his home country, where he and his allies have been targeted with court cases and house searches and have served brief terms behind bars.

The bailiffs’ actions are the result of a court ruling in October last year that Navalny, his ally Lyubov Sobol and the Anti-Corruption Foundation he founded must jointly pay almost 88 million rubles ($1.2 million) to Moskovsky Shkolnik, a catering company that makes school dinners.

The company sued over a video investigation by Navalny’s team that alleged it made substandard food that made children ill.

Kremlin-linked businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin said he had paid the catering company and would claim the money back.

Sobol said in late August that bailiffs debited all her bank accounts for her share of the sum, leaving her deep in the red.

To try and avoid paying the fine, the Anti-Corruption Foundation changed its legal status.

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