Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, who has been under house arrest for alleged fraud involving a state lumber company, snipped off his monitoring bracelet with a pair of scissors and has refused to honor the arrest terms. He tweeted, “Refusal to respect house arrest” and posted a picture of the bracelet.
— Alexey Navalny (@navalny) January 5, 2015
Some on Twitter joked to him about the bracelet. “This bracelet Alekss would not cut …” and posted a picture of a koala on an unknown person. The account owner did not explain why he chose a koala.
— orationis (@orationis) January 5, 2015
“Electronic bracelet, cut kitchen scissors – a great symbol of dictatorship in Russia: it just seems that it can not do anything.”
Электронный браслет, срезанный кухонными ножницами – отличный символ диктатуры в России: это лишь кажется, что с ней ничего нельзя сделать. — Дядюшка Шу (@Shulz) January 5, 2015
In his blog, Nalvany explained that he waited five days for papers confirming his conviction, but such documents were not sent to him, preventing him from appealing the case. He also said that, according to Article 107 Criminal Procedure Code, it is illegal to hold him under house arrest after a conviction.
“This is stupid to brag about, but I’m the only person in the history of Russia sitting under house arrest after the verdict,” he wrote. “Article 311 of the Criminal Procedure Code clearly says that the defendant must be released immediately in the courtroom in the case of ‘conviction to sentence not involving deprivation of liberty or the penalty of deprivation of liberty.’ And my house arrest – a kind of prison.”
A court placed him under house arrest from a 2009 charge of stealing from a state lumber company. Another court gave him a three-and-a-half-year suspended sentence on embezzlement charges December 30. His brother, Oleg, received the same amount of time in prison.
Navalny publicly chastised the court for his brother’s sentence after the two men received the verdicts. Navalany organized a rally on Facebook after the speech, posting a picture of himself on the metro en route to the rally, despite his sentence. Officers arrested him on the way. When he arrived home, Navalny tweeted a picture of the five soldiers posted outside his apartment.
Alexei Navalny is one of the most outspoken critics of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Independent reported that Nalvany has taken to becoming “a small shareholder in major companies, including state-run energy businesses” and uses “his position to raise questions about their finances.” Nalvany rose to fame in 2011 after he exposed a real estate deal between the governments of Hungary and Russia. Hungary sold an embassy building to a company offshore owned by Russian businessman Viktor Vekselberg for $21 billion, who immediately sold it to Russia for $116 million. Nalvany released papers that showed evidence of collusion, a way to limit open competition. Hungary detained officials involved in the deal, but Russia only started an investigation into the matter in 2013.
In 2010, Nalvany found documents that proved $4 billion “of state funds [were] stolen” during a “2007 audit of the East Siberia-Pacific pipeline.” Transneft is state-owned and the largest oil pipeline company in the world. CEO Nikolay Tokarev’s friendship with Putin dates back to their time in the KGB, and another friend, Igor Sechin, who is currently under sanctions, is CEO of Rosneft, Russia’s state-owned gas company.
The Kremlin does have a history of persecuting those who do not toe the line. Putin told oligarchs in 2000 that “they could keep their wealth but they were not to dabble in politics.” Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the richest man in Russia, wanted to expand his petroleum company, Yukos, internationally. He told Putin there was massive corruption within the Kremlin in February 2003. In October 2003, the Kremlin arrested him on charges of fraud and tax evasion. Putin grabbed Yukos from Khodorkovsky. State-owned petroleum company Rosneft snatched up the most lucrative parts of Yukos. This acquisition made Rosneft Russia’s largest petroleum company. Putin issued a pardon for Khodorkovsky in December 2013.