Russia has issued an arrest warrant for the brother of jailed Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny, part of ongoing efforts to silence opposition voices critical of the Kremlin.
The interior ministry said on Wednesday that Oleg Navalny is wanted on criminal charges, without providing further details, and his name appeared on the ministry’s wanted list, the AFP news agency confirmed.
The move comes a day after Russia’s prison authority asked the courts to convert a suspended sentence he is serving into jail time for violating coronavirus regulations.
Oleg Navalny’s lawyer Nikos Paraskevov told the Interfax news agency on Wednesday that the arrest warrant was issued when police were unable to locate his client at his residence.
Paraskevov said it was not clear whether the 38-year-old had left the country.
Almost all of Alexey Navalny‘s most prominent allies have fled Russia after he was jailed and his organisations were outlawed.
Last August, Oleg Navalny was handed a one-year suspended sentence for breaking pandemic restrictions during protests demanding his brother’s release.
He was accused of calling for Russians to attend an unsanctioned rally in January 2021 in support of his brother, who had returned to Russia after being treated in Germany for a near-fatal poisoning attack.
A Moscow court announced on Monday it will consider the request to jail Oleg Navalny on February 18.
Convicted of fraud
In 2014, Alexey and Oleg Navalny were convicted in a fraud trial – which Kremlin critics say was politically motivated – related to their work for French cosmetics company Yves Rocher.
Oleg served three-and-a-half years in prison and was released in 2018, while Alexey received a three-and-a-half-year suspended sentence.
After returning to Russia last year, Alexey had his suspended sentence converted to jail time, which he is serving in a penal colony outside Moscow.
President Vladimir Putin’s most vocal domestic opponent spent months in Germany recovering from a poisoning attack that he and the West blame on the Kremlin.
On Tuesday, he was added to an official list of “terrorists” in Russia along with his allies.