One of Navalny's rising movement figures, Lioubov Sobol, was arrested.

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Denis Kaminev / AP / SIPA

Russian authorities on Friday arrested new supporters of jailed opponent Alexei Navalny, while others were due to appear in court on the eve of a day of planned nationwide protests.

Alexei Navalny's team, detained until at least February 15 and targeted by multiple legal proceedings, called for protests on Saturday in 65 Russian cities to demand the release of the main enemy of the Kremlin, "illegal" gatherings according to authorities.

After having arrested several collaborators of Alexeï Navalny on Thursday, the police continued the arrests this Friday with the coordinator of the head office of the opponent in Vladivostok in the Far East, Ekaterina Vedernikova, and a collaborator of the headquarters of Novosibirsk, in Siberia, Elena Noskovets.

The opponent's team also reported the arrest of the coordinator from Tyumen, in the Urals, of another collaborator in the Kaliningrad enclave, and of Sergei Boyko, including the coalition in Novosibirsk, in Siberia, challenged the Kremlin party in regional elections in September.

The police threaten

Arrested Thursday, a rising figure of the movement, Lioubov Sobol, and Alexeï Navalny's spokesperson, Kira Iarmych, are due to appear before judges this Friday for calling for demonstrations qualified as illegal.

Kira Iarmych's lawyer, Veronika Poliakova, said her client faced ten days in detention.

Lioubov Sobol for his part faces thirty days in prison but could suffer, as in previous arrests, a simple fine because she has a small child.

Faced with the mobilization scheduled for Saturday, the Kremlin, the Prosecutor's Office and the Ministry of the Interior have warned against participating in these gatherings.

"All attempts to organize an unauthorized public event and any provocative action will be considered a threat to public order and will be suppressed without delay," police said in the Russian capital.

Russian telecommunications gendarme Roskomnadzor threatened social networks with fines if they did not remove calls for demonstrations, and in particular warned the Tik Tok and Vkontakte platforms, the Russian equivalent of Facebook.

Portraits of Putin replaced by that of Navalny on TikTok

The media also reported warnings from universities and schools to discourage students from protesting or encourage parents to "protect their children."

In recent days, thousands of videos and messages of support for the opponent have been circulating on Tik Tok, a platform particularly popular with teenagers, including calls to protest, advice not to be arrested by the police or users to filming replacing the portrait of Vladimir Putin with that of Alexey Navalny in their classroom.

The opponent was arrested on January 17, on his return from five months of convalescence in Germany after suspected poisoning, of which he accused the Kremlin.

Moscow rejects these allegations.


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