Putin denies Navalny allegation he owns Black Sea palace

President Vladimir Putin holds a meeting with Russian students via a videoconference on January 25, 2021.
President Vladimir Putin holds a meeting with Russian students via a videoconference on January 25, 2021. © Mikhail Klimentyev, AFP
6 min

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday that an opulent Black Sea palace jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has accused him of owning did not belong to him or his family. 

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Navalny's team released a video last week in which he levelled his allegations about the palace, which has since been viewed more than 86 million times on YouTube.

The Russian leader on Monday denied ownership of the sprawling mansion, saying: "Nothing that is listed there as my property belongs to me or my close relatives, and never did."

Putin, fielding questions from students, said weekend protests demanding Navalny's release were illegal and dangerous.

Police detained more than 3,000 people and used force to break up rallies across Russia on Saturday after tens of thousands of people ignored extreme cold and police warnings to publicly call for Navalny's release.

Russians brave freezing temperatures to protest Navalny's arrest
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On Monday, a senior aide to Navalny called for fresh anti-government demonstrations next weekend.

Leonid Volkov, the head of the opposition politician's regional network, called on Twitter for Russians across the country to take to the streets on Sunday "for Navalny's freedom, for freedom for all, and for justice".

Navalny was detained earlier this month on his arrival to Moscow from Germany, where he had been recovering following a poisoning attack with the Novichok nerve agent.

Volkov called on Russians to rally again to put pressure on the authorities to release Navalny before he is due in court on February 2 on charges of breaking the terms of a 2014 suspended sentence.

The Kremlin critic could be jailed for more than three years if the court rules in favour of Russia's prison service, which says Navalny failed to check in with it twice per month while he was recovering in Germany.

Volkov said that if protesters take to the streets ahead of the February 2 hearing "our demand will sound more powerful".

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AFP)

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