16 Sep 2019 13:05

Activists from Navalny's regional headquarters appeal court decision on FBK '1 bln' money laundering case

MOSCOW. Sept 16 (Interfax) - Employees and volunteers of the regional headquarters of opposition activist Alexei Navalny have filed appeals against the decision made by the Moscow Basmanny District Court which granted the investigators' request to issue warrants to search their residences as part of an investigation into a criminal case involving money laundering through the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK).

"The lawyers have filed the first 30 appeals against the [Moscow] Basmanny [District] Court decisions on searches of the residences of employees and volunteers of the regional headquarters of Alexei Navalny, which took place last week," Pavel Chikov, the head of the international human rights group Agora, whose lawyers represent the activists, said on Telegram.

"The defense lawyers believe the court did not give any specific, factual circumstances on the basis of which the search warrants were issued. Moreover, the court allowed a search even though the investigator's motion did not state precisely what objects and evidence were being sought and might be seized as relevant to the criminal case, i.e., the object of the search was stated in the search warrant too broadly. The court also allowed a restriction associated with ownership, use, and disposal of seized property and funds," Chikov said.

Over 120 people associated with Navalny's headquarters, whose residences have been searched, intend to appeal the court decision on the searches, he said.

Last week, the head of the network of Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny's regional headquarters, Leonid Volkov, said that law enforcement agencies were conducting searches at 20 such offices.

"Searches began simultaneously at more than 60 locations in more than 20 cities this morning. [Police] have visited the homes of all coordinators and even their relatives on many occasions, the homes of the headquarters' volunteers, and of course, the offices themselves," Volkov wrote on Twitter.

Volkov said that this concerned Navalny's headquarters in Cheboksary, Yekaterinburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Lipetsk, Kazan, Khabarovsk, Irkutsk, Kemerovo, Penza, Orenburg, Kurgan, Saratov, Balakovo, Novosibirsk, St. Petersburg, Krasnoyarsk, Chelyabinsk, Belgorod, Tomsk, Krasnodar, Tambov, Izhevsk, and Tyumen.

The searches were being carried out as part of a money-laundering case opened against the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), Volkov said, adding that police are seizing office equipment.

According to reports, Moscow's Basmanny Court issued 94 search warrants on September 4, 2019, authorizing these searches.

The Russian Investigative Committee launched a criminal investigation into FBK's funding on August 3. Investigators said that between January 2016 and December 2018, FBK employees laundered about one billion rubles criminally obtained from other people. These funds were used to carry out FBK's activity.

Navalny registered the non-profit Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) in September 2011. The organization is engaged in anti-corruption investigations. The foundation said that it is funded by donations.