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FACTBOX-Key figures in Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny's movement

by Reuters
Wednesday, 10 February 2021 17:32 GMT

(Repeats Feb 9 story, text unchanged)

By Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber

MOSCOW, Feb 10 (Reuters) - The jailing of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has raised questions about how the Russian opposition will continue to operate in his absence.

Here are the key figures in his entourage who could take on a greater role in Navalny's movement ahead of a parliamentary election in September:


Yulia Navalnaya is Navalny's wife and has supported her husband in his political endeavours over the years.

Sometimes referred to as the "first lady of the opposition," Navalnaya is accustomed to court hearings, home searches, frozen bank accounts and police station visits.

A Russian business association this week called for people designated by the authorities as "foreign agents" and their relatives to be barred from running for office in a bid to prevent Navalnaya from doing so.

The group said it wanted to avoid what had happened in neighbouring Belarus last year when the opposition there rallied around Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, wife of a jailed opposition blogger, after she was authorised to run against President Alexander Lukashenko.

Navalnaya, who has never raised the prospect of running for office, was briefly detained at two protests in Moscow last month.


Leonid Volkov is one of Navalny's closest allies, overseeing the opposition politician's regional headquarters.

Based abroad, Volkov has come into focus since Navalny was detained last month by announcing the opposition's plan for future protests.

Volkov left Russia in 2019 after the authorities opened a criminal case into suspected money laundering by Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation, which investigates official corruption.

Navalny said at the time that he respected Volkov's decision to leave the country, and that working from abroad could ultimately be helpful if it meant it would keep Volkov out of reach of Russian law enforcement.

After saying the opposition would not hold street protests until spring or summer, Volkov on Tuesday called on Russians to gather in residential courtyards on Sunday evening and turn on their mobile phone torches.


Ivan Zhdanov is the director of Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation, which publishes high-impact investigations into what it says is official graft. Prior to becoming director of the foundation, Zhdanov headed its legal department.

One of the foundation's investigations alleged last month that President Vladimir Putin was the ultimate owner of an opulent palace on the Black Sea, something the Russian leader has denied.

The online video containing the findings has been viewed more than 110 million times since it was posted on YouTube on Jan. 19.


Lyubov Sobol works as a lawyer at the Anti-Corruption Foundation and serves as the producer for the Navalny LIVE YouTube channel, where Navalny and his allies discuss topical political issues.

Sobol has been under house arrest since last month -- like several other Navalny allies -- for allegedly breaching COVID-19 safety regulations at an unsanctioned rally. In recent years Sobol has been detained at street protests on several occasions.

In 2019 the 33-year-old was among several opposition-minded candidates the authorities barred from running in elections for Moscow's city legislature, a vote seen as a dry run for a national parliamentary election later this year.


Currently under house arrest in Russia, Kira Yarmysh has worked as Navalny's spokeswoman since 2014. She had previously volunteered for Navalny's pre-election campaign in the 2013 Moscow mayoral race.

The 31-year-old often accompanies Navalny on his travels and was with him when he suddenly fell ill on a flight from Siberia to Moscow in August last year after having been poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent.

A Moscow court on Tuesday rejected Yarmysh's appeal against her house arrest. Like Sobol and other Navalny allies, Yarmysh is accused of breaching COVID-19 safety regulations at an unauthorised protest.


Alexei Navalny's younger brother Oleg was placed under house arrest after taking part in a Moscow rally last month where the authorities said he violated safety regulations linked to the pandemic.

The 37-year-old was released from prison in 2018 after serving three-and-a-half years for an embezzlement conviction critics say was designed to pressure his brother Alexei and smother dissent.

Alexei Navalny at the time was given a suspended sentence in the same case, but it was converted into a real prison term last week because of alleged parole violations. (Editing by William Maclean)

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