On Thursday, September 12, Russian police conducted one of the largest operations in its history, with over 1000 people involved in 40 cities from Kaliningrad to Vladivostok. Sadly, this operation wasn’t against terrorists or drug dealers. It was against the supporters of Alexey Navalny.
In total, over 200 locations were ransacked: regional HQs, apartments of regional coordinators and employees and even houses of their family members. In Kurgan, police drove 2.5 hours from the city to the country house of the elderly parents of regional coordinator Alexey Schwarz. They scared his mother so much that she fell unconscious.
All searches started simultaneously, at 6 am Moscow time. Police confiscated not only all technical equipment but also personal belongings, credit cards and even passports from some of the victims. Novosibirsk regional coordinator Alexey Boyko, who placed second at the Sunday’s mayoral elections, found a way to keep some of his belongings safe: he attached them to a quadcopter and launched it out of the window.
HQ employees were often humiliated by the police. The coordinator of Vladivostok HQ was asked by a female policeman to take off her T-shirt and bra for them to be searched. At the same time, a male policeman was walking shamelessly around the room with no reaction from his colleague.
Moreover, banks also started blocking accounts of those affected by the searches after attempting to charge 75 million rubles from each of them — that’s the amount of money that was allegedly “laundered” by the Anti-Corruption Foundation according to the recently opened criminal case.
Officially, the searches were conducted as part of the money laundering investigation. However, it is obvious that this was actually and act of revenge following the success of the “smart voting” strategy implemented by Navalny and his team at the September 8 regional elections. By entering their address into the system, Navalny’s supporters would receive the name of the person most likely to defeat the pro-government candidate in their electoral district. As a result, “smart voting” candidates managed to win 20 out of 45 seats in the Moscow City Duma and severely weaken the positions of «United Russia» in other regions. The government didn’t take this defeat lightly and reacted in the only way it can: with force and terror.