Opposition Leader Navalny's Wife Questioned
Published: August 26, 2014 (Issue # 1825)
Yulia Navalnaya, the wife of firebrand opposition leader Alexei Navalny, was questioned by federal investigators Monday in a move the couple referred to as an act of "intimidation."
The Investigative Committee called Navalnaya, 38, in for questioning in connection with a piece of street art that investigators believe was stolen by affiliates of her husband, she said.
The work in question — a diptych by artist Sergei Sotov titled "Good/Bad Man" — depicts two people embracing various vices and virtues.
The work had been displayed on a city street in central Russian city of Vladimir. Sotov is known for creating satirical works and then placing them in public spaces, according to opposition-minded newspaper Novaya Gazeta.
Navalny has said the artwork was given to him as a gift by a friend, Georgy Alburov, who had found it in the street.
Despite never having cared in the past about the fate of his works, Sotov is said to have notified the authorities about the theft of "Good/Bad Man," which the artist claimed was worth 5,000 rubles ($150), Novaya Gazeta reported.
Navalnaya said on Twitter that she declined to testify against herself, leading the investigator to threaten her with criminal prosecution in what she referred to as a violation of her constitutional rights.
Three other Navalny affiliates have also been summoned for questioning, she said in a separate Tweet.
Navalny, 38, made a name for himself by blogging a series of hard-hitting exposés targeting officials and powerful businessmen. He was among the leaders of the mass opposition protests that took Moscow by storm between 2011 and 2013.
Since then, the activist has been slapped with several criminal fraud cases and defamation suits that he has referred to as fabrication and retribution for his exposОs.
The former Moscow mayoral hopeful was handed a five-year prison sentence following an embezzlement conviction in one of the cases in 2013, though the court later amended its initial ruling, giving him a suspended sentence instead.
The avid blogger was also placed under house arrest last February over another case, leaving his wife and affiliates to run his Twitter and Facebook accounts, as well as his personal blog — though officials claimed he ignores the ban and continues to blog personally without taking credit for it.