MOSCOW (RFE/RL): Moscow police have detained the chief of the Physicians’ Alliance nongovernment organization and taken her to a court hearing, where she is being charged with allegedly violating restrictive measures aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus.
The group’s spokeswoman, Aleksandra Zakharova, said police detained Anastasia Vasilyeva, a supporter of jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny, even though she had planned on coming to the Preobrazhensky district court for the hearing on her own on September 1.
“She was detained. It is not yet clear why. Perhaps they want to forcibly take her to court. Today is just a court hearing on the case of ‘sanitary standards’ violations,” lawyer Dmitry Dzhulai told the state-run TASS news agency.
Vasilyeva is one of two Navalny supporters still facing charges for publicly calling for people to take part in unsanctioned rallies to support the Kremlin critic in January.
The other person whose hearing in the case is pending is a leading member of the Pussy Riot protest group, Maria Alyokhina.
Several other close associates and supporters of Navalny, including his brother Oleg, have been handed parole-like sentences restricting their freedom in recent weeks.
Media reports said that Navalny’s spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh and his close associate Lyubov Sobol fled Russia after they were sentenced, which had not been confirmed either by the two women or their lawyers.
The Physicians’ Alliance NGO was deemed to be a “foreign agent” in March by the Justice Ministry.