Russian investigators summoned a number of opposition politicians for questioning Thursday after the authorities staged nighttime raids and jailed top Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny for 30 days.
The crackdown was launched as opposition politicians fight to get on the ballot for a Moscow parliament election in September amid falling approval ratings for President Vladimir Putin.
The arrests and raids followed a weekend rally in Moscow, the largest such demonstration in years, as anger grows over the refusal by the election authorities to allow popular opposition candidates to take part in the poll.
Navalny and other anti-Kremlin politicians threatened to stage an even bigger rally on July 27, near the Moscow mayor’s office, unless opposition candidates are registered.
The opposition said the crackdown was aimed at thwarting those plans, after police first arrested Navalny on Wednesday.
On Wednesday night, police raided the homes of several opposition politicians and would-be candidates including Dmitry Gudkov and Ivan Zhdanov.
The nighttime raids were linked to a new criminal case into obstructing the work of election officials after Navalny’s allies and ordinary Muscovites staged a series of pickets and rallies outside the offices of the Moscow election commission and elsewhere in recent days.
Investigators said the protests involved “threats to use violence against members of the electoral commissions” — an offense that risks up to five years in prison.
On Thursday, more politicians including Navalny ally Lyubov Sobol were told to appear for questioning.
“My morning began with a questioning at the Investigative Committee,” Gudkov said on Twitter after the nighttime search of his apartment.
“After mass searches and arrests the elections are over. This institution has died under Putin.”
A coordinator from Navalny’s Moscow headquarters, Oleg Stepanov, was also jailed for eight days on Wednesday.
– ‘Mad and paranoid’ –
Opposition politicians have fought tooth and nail to get on the ballot but say they were made to jump through countless hoops. Each had to collect roughly 5,000 signatures to be eligible.
The electoral authorities still refused to register most representatives, accusing them of faking some of the signatures.
The opposition called on Muscovites to turn up for an unauthorized rally on Saturday despite a thinly-veiled police threat to break it up.
“Just think about it: people are merely trying to take part in city elections,” prominent opposition politician and would-be candidate Ilya Yashin said on Twitter, calling the authorities “mad and paranoid”.
He said liberal-minded Muscovites should not be afraid.
“It’s like with a pack of dogs: if you show your fear they will tear you apart,” he added.
More than 8,000 people said on Facebook they would attend or were interested in the Saturday protest.
Max Boot calls BS on Republicans for trying to claim Syria is Nancy Pelosi’s fault because of impeachment
President Donald Trump is conducting foreign policy like a 1980s television character, according to conservative Washington Post columnist Max Boot.
In a panel discussion about the letter Trump sent to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an, Boot mocked Republicans for suddenly trying to claim that Trump's withdrawal from Syria was Speaker Nancy Pelosi's fault because of impeachment. It is unclear if Republicans are confessing the president is too distracted by impeachment to be making foreign policy decisions or if they are blaming Pelosi for military decisions.
"I mean there's a lot of really lame Republican talking points out there, Don," Boot said to CNN host Don Lemon. "But to suggest, as Rep. Liz Cheney and others have done that somehow Trump's inexplicable decision to give the Turks the green light to invade Syria — that was somehow the fault of Nancy Pelosi because of the impeachment process? What?"
US military had to bomb our own base in Syria because of Trump’s mistakes — and one Republican is furious
President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw in Syria in less than 24 hours put American troops at risk as they were being fired on by Turkey. However, according to the Wall Street Journal , the military was also forced to bomb our own military base.
Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who has been critical of Trump's decisions in the past months, pointed out the factoid in a tweet Wednesday evening, asking, "Is this the America you grew up believing in?"
"On Wednesday, the U.S. military said two F-15E jet fighters carried out an airstrike to destroy an ammunition-storage facility, latrines, tents and other parts of the Syria headquarters of the American campaign to destroy Islamic State after pulling its forces from the base," reported The Journal.
Ex-counterintel official explains how lobbying laws could bring down Rudy Giuliani
On Wednesday's edition of CNN's "Cuomo Prime Time," former Justice Department counterintelligence official David Laufman explained to Chris Cuomo how President Donald Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani could go down for violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
"Why does this matter, this area of the law?" asked Cuomo.
"This was a statute enacted in the 1930s in response to pro-Nazi German elements of the United States, engaged in subversive propaganda activities so that the U.S. people or lawmakers when confronted with content, whether lobbying or an op-ed, can make an informed assessment based on who the real party is behind it," explained Laufman. "If it's a foreign party, the American people should be able to take that into account and assigning whatever weight they want."