Russian police search Alexei Navalny’s residence, business offices

Police on Wednesday searched the Moscow apartment of jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, another residence where his wife is living and offices of his anti-corruption organization.

Navalny’s aides reported the raids on social media.

It was not immediately clear whether anyone had been arrested. Leonid Volkov, head of Navalny’s corruption-investigating organization, said the searches were being carried out for alleged epidemiological or sanitary violations.

Police also searched the apartment of Navalny’s spokesperson, who was arrested last week and jailed, and an investigator for Navalny’s group, the organization reported.

The searches come amid rising tensions over Navalny. Demonstrations demanding his release were held nationwide in Russia last weekend.

About 4,000 people reportedly were detained by police in the protests. His supporters have called for more demonstrations to be held Sunday.

Front Burner21:01Alexei Navalny, the ‘anti-Putin’

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Moscow, St. Petersburg and across Russia to demand the release of prominent Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny this past weekend. Police used force to break up the protests and detained more than 2,500 people. Navalny is best known for his anti-corruption investigations and was recently the subject of an assassination attempt. After recovering from his poisoning in Germany, Navalny returned to Russia only to be arrested and imprisoned in Moscow. CBC Russia correspondent Chris Brown talks to host Jayme Poisson about the growing movement in support of Navalny, and whether it might actually challenge President Vladimir Putin’s hold on power in Russia. 21:01

Navalny was arrested Jan. 17 upon returning to Russia from Germany, where he had spent five months recovering from a nerve-agent poisoning that he has blamed on the Kremlin. The Russian government denies involvement in the poisoning.

West watching Navalny case closely

Navalny, the Kremlin’s most prominent and durable foe, fell into a coma while aboard a domestic flight from Siberia to Moscow on Aug. 20. He was transferred from a hospital in Siberia to one in Berlin two days later.

Labs in Germany, France and Sweden, and tests by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, established that he was exposed to the Soviet-era Novichok nerve agent.

Russian authorities have refused to open a full-fledged criminal inquiry, citing a lack of evidence that Navalny was poisoned.

In December, Navalny released the recording of a phone call he said he made to a man he described as an alleged member of a group of officers of the Federal Security Service, or FSB, who purportedly poisoned him in August and then tried to cover it up. The FSB dismissed the recording as fake.

WATCH | Navalny’s wife among those arrested at large rallies:

Police detained more than 1,000 people across Russia and used force to break up rallies around the country as tens of thousands of protesters demanded the release of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, whose wife was among those arrested. 1:46

Navalny’s arrest and the harsh police actions at the protests have brought wide criticism from the West and calls for his release.

U.S. President Joe Biden brought up the Navalny case in his first call to Putin, according to a White House readout of the call on Tuesday.

Russia’s foreign ministry said Wednesday that a statement by the Group of Seven foreign ministers condemning his arrest constitutes “gross interference” in Russia’s domestic affairs.

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