The father of Ivan Zhdanov, a key member of Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny’s team, has been detained on abuse of power charges. The activist, who’s based abroad, claims that President Vladimir Putin is behind the arrest.
The 32-year-old campaigner believes his father Yury, who was arrested in Rostov-on-Don on Friday, is being targeted as payback for his own political and investigative activities.
In recent months, Zhdanov has been vocal in his opposition to Navalny’s arrest and has called on his supporters to take to the streets for unauthorized protests.
The elder Zhdanov, who retired last summer, worked in the village of Iskateley in Russia’s far north as a member of the local housing commission. He is accused of recommending that the settlement’s top official give a woman social housing, who was later revealed to already have received a subsidy.
According to his son, this is the official reason his father was arrested.
Ivan Zhdanov believes that the case is entirely politically motivated, stating he has “no doubt whatsoever” that it is related to his own political activities.
“Did they jail the head of the village who ordered the apartment to be allocated? No, of course, not even a figurehead,” he wrote on Facebook. “They were looking specifically for something on my father.”
According to the opposition figure, it is not the first time his father has been investigated by the authorities, with the Federal Security Service (FSB), police and Investigative Committee all trying to dig something up since 2016, when the younger Zhdanov first ran for political office.
“This is a whole new level of nastiness and meanness,” he claimed. “They need to make my life a living hell.”
Other employees of the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), such as London-based Maria Pevchikh, called the case “fabricated.”
FBK founder Navalny was detained in January this year after returning from Germany, where he was convalescing after an alleged poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin. He was accused of violating the terms of a three-and-a-half-year suspended sentence he received in 2014, when he was found guilty of embezzling 30 million rubles ($400,000) from two companies, including the French cosmetics brand Yves Rocher. In February, a Moscow court decided to send him to prison for two years and eight months.
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