Ally of Russian opposition leader Navalny held, faces jail

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A close ally of Russia’s top opposition leader Alexei Navalny was detained Tuesday over last year’s opposition rally and faces up to 30 days in jail, he and associates said.

Leonid Volkov was detained by police when he was travelling to work in a taxi, Navalny’s spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh told AFP.

“They detained him with the words ‘we’ve been waiting for you for a long time,’“ Navalny said on Twitter.

Volkov himself said he had been held for taking part in a rally against a controversial pension reform last year.

The 38-year-old faces up to 30 days in jail.

On September 9, 2018 thousands of people protested across Russia against a reform raising the state pension age. Hundreds were detained.

Vyacheslav Gimadi, a lawyer with Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Fund said on Echo of Moscow radio that Volkov could not have organized the protests because he was not in Russia at the time.

Last year, Navalny himself served two stints of 30 and 20 days in jail for violating protest laws.

As soon as he was released from jail after serving the 30-day sentence last September, he was detained again.

Navalny has organized some of the biggest protests against Russian leader Vladimir Putin in recent years.

His anti-corruption rhetoric is hugely popular among younger people who follow his online channels and blogs.

The Yale-educated lawyer has faced a string of criminal charges since he became the leading opposition figure in Russia, campaigning against Putin’s rule at mass demonstrations in 2011 and 2012.

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