Russia cracks down on opposition activists after protests


Moscow (AFP)

Russian authorities have detained several members of jailed opposition politician Alexei Navalny's team for organising protests ahead of President Vladimir Putin's fourth inauguration.

The crackdown comes after Navalny himself was sentenced to 30 days behind bars last week. He is due to be released the day before the FIFA World Cup begins in Russia.

On Thursday police detained Navalny's lawyer Ivan Zdhanov outside his office, the head of the opposition politician's Moscow headquarters Leonid Volkov said on Twitter.

Volkov said Zhdanov faces 10 days in jail for calling for unsanctioned protests on social media.

"They have found yet another 'organiser of a rally through a retweet'. It seems they have decided to lock everyone up," Volkov wrote on Twitter.

Zhdanov's arrest comes a day after a Moscow court sentenced Navalny's spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh to 25 days in jail.

Tweeting from court, Yarmysh said the sentencing was based on a tweet.

"25 days under arrest is nothing when you know you are right and so many people support you. Goodbye everyone, see you at the appeal," she wrote on Twitter.

On Tuesday, Navalny's YouTube channel anchor Ruslan Shaveddinov was sentenced to 30 days in jail.

"30 days. I will continue to call for you all to participate in the fight for the future of our country," Shavvedinov tweeted from court.

Navalny, 31, who was barred from challenging Putin in March's presidential election, had called on Russians to stage rallies across the country on May 5 under the slogan "Not our Tsar."

Nearly 1,600 of his supporters were arrested during the protests as police and paramilitary activists used force to break up demonstrations in Moscow and Saint Petersburg.

Putin, who has been in power in Russia since 1999, was re-elected for a fourth Kremlin term in March.