Russian court orders arrest in absentia of Navalny ally Zhdanov

·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: Russian opposition politicians Navalny, Sobol and Zhdanov take part in a rally to mark the 5th anniversary of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov's murder and to protest against proposed amendments to the country's constitution, in Moscow

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Russian court on Tuesday ordered the arrest in absentia of Ivan Zhdanov, an ally of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

Zhdanov was the director of Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation which has been declared "extremist" and in effect outlawed by the authorities, a move his allies saw as part of a wider crackdown on the opposition.

Moscow's Nagatinsky District Court said Zhdanov, who is based abroad, was accused of failing to comply with an earlier court decision, an offence that can carry a jail sentence of up to two years.

It ordered his arrest in absentia for one month, starting when he is detained. It gave no details of the earlier court decision.

"We always assumed that if Ivan returns (to Russia) he will be immediately sent to a detention facility from the moment he crosses the border," his lawyer, Vladimir Voronin, told Reuters.

"Now we know this for a fact," he said.

The police have shared Zhdanov's details with Interpol, Voronin said, sharing documents on Tuesday's court hearing on Twitter.

Zhdanov was added to a federal wanted list earlier this month and he said in March that police had detained his father in an incident he described as an attempt to pressure him over his own opposition activities.

Navalny, one of President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent critics, is serving a 2-1/2 year jail term for parole violations in a case he says was trumped up to thwart his political opposition against the Kremlin, something it denies.

Russian police also raided the homes of two investigative journalists on Tuesday and detained a third as part of a criminal investigation into suspected slander. The raids follow a crackdown on independent media but the Kremlin denied the police action could be seen as retribution for their work.

(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber, Anton Kolodyazhnyy and Polina Ivanova; Writing by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber and Polina Ivanova, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

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