A Russian court imposed house arrest on a number of the most prominent opposition figures in the country, on charges of violating safety rules related to the Coronavirus, while it appeared as an attempt by the government to exploit the imposed restrictions, to silence its opponents, according to what was confirmed by a newspaper report. The New York Times America, published Friday 19 March 2021.
According to the same source, this legal measure, known as the “health issue”, targeted 10 opposition and dissident politicians, including the senior leadership of the organization. Alexey Navalny And members of the “Pussy Riot” protest group, and everyone has been charged with inciting others to violate the rules imposed last spring to curb the spread of the Corona virus, which their lawyers denied.
Ruse of the Russian authorities
On the one hand, the plaintiffs say that their social media posts calling for a protest in Moscow in January led to the presence of 19 people who were legally required to quarantine home due to positive Covid-19 test results. This puts the others in attendance at risk.
While defense lawyers confirm that the authorities are sarcastically twisting the rules of the Corona virus to isolate people who will not spread the infection, but they see that their danger is political in nature.
“The ideological intent is to classify opposition figures as infecting the public and poisoning its ideas,” said Daniel Berman, lawyer for “Pussy Riot” group member Maria Alyujina, who was among those targeted.
Berman added that the removal of key leaders ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for this year is also hindering the opposition.
Restriction of freedoms
According to The guardian The British, Friday, while many around the world complained about the Coronavirus restrictions violating their freedoms as a byproduct of safety measures, members of the Russian opposition are protesting that the government is using the restrictions against them with a specific aim: to restrict their freedom.
Defense attorneys say the online posts by opposition figures promoting the protest and not specifically encouraging patients to attend as the government accuses them. The shutdown was canceled in Moscow anyway months ago.
Likewise, defense attorneys say, the rules are being applied selectively. To restrict opposition activity, while allowing pro-government actors to proceed with few restrictions, although the virus would easily spread to any type of gathering.
The “health issue” is the most famous measure yet. Among those accused are Navalny’s brother, a spokeswoman for his movement, and a political ally who intends to run for parliament this year.
On Thursday, 18 March, a Moscow court extended the house arrest of four of the defendants until June. Lawyers expect similar rulings for the rest of the group at a hearing on Friday 19 March.