‘Local officials’ revenge’ Liliya Chanysheva left Team Navalny in the spring, hoping to start a family. Now, she’s in jail on ‘extremism’ charges — and she might be pregnant.

Leonid Volkov, Alexey Navalny, and Liliya Chanysheva at the launch of Navalny’s Ufa campaign office. March 4, 2017.Evgeny Feldman

On November 10, a court in Ufa jailed Liliya Chanysheva for two months pending trial for ‘extremism.’ The former head of Alexey Navalny’s regional campaign office in Bashkiria, Chanysheva is the first suspect to be arrested as part of a criminal case opened against the imprisoned opposition leader and his close associates for creating an “extremist group.” Investigators launched the case retroactively in late September 2021, months after a Moscow court outlawed Navalny’s anti-corruption nonprofits and countrywide political network as “extremist” organizations. During her arraignment, Chanysheva told the court that she may be in the early stages of pregnancy. Nevertheless, she was remanded in custody until January 9, 2022. If found guilty, she will face up to a decade in prison.


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‘Empty’ charges

Liliya Chanysheva was arrested on November 9, amid police raids on the homes of former Team Navalny activists in Bashkiria and the Kemerovo region. Several other former members of Navalny’s political network were detained and taken in for questioning, but they were all released.

During her arraignment on November 10, investigators insisted that Chanysheva be jailed pending trial, claiming that the activist might flee Russia and evade the investigation. Chanysheva’s lawyers asked the court to place their client under house arrest instead. 

During the hearing, Chanysheva said she may be in the early stages of pregnancy. Kommersant reported that she may be two weeks pregnant. However, as Chanysheva told the court, the doctors who examined her following her arrest couldn’t confirm her pregnancy because it’s still too early. Chanysheva’s husband, Almaz Gatin, told the Ekho Moskvy radio station that they were married in April and had recently been preparing to have children.

Liliya Chanysheva at the arraignment on November 10

According to Novaya Gazeta, even if Chanysheva’s pregnancy is confirmed, the courts aren’t required by law to release her from custody. “There is no categorical ban in the legislation on sending women to pre-trial detention centers and prison colonies if they are pregnant,” the newspaper explained. 

The judge took just 20 minutes to make a decision and remanded the defendant in custody until January 9, 2022. Chanysheva was transferred to Moscow’s Pre-Trial Detention Center (SIZO) Number 6. The Investigative Committee’s central office has taken charge of investigating the extremism case. If convicted, Chanysheva will face up to 10 years in prison. 

Chanysheva’s lawyer, Vladimir Voronin, called the investigators’ motion to jail his client “empty.” According to him, the materials presented in court included the testimony of “an unidentified person from [Navalny’s] Chelyabinsk headquarters, who has nothing to do with Liliya.” Moreover, the case materials do not specify which of Chanysheva’s actions constitute extremism, Voronin underscored. “In fact, you could substitute any coordinator of any headquarters for Chanysheva,” the lawyer said, adding that the defense plans to appeal the court’s ruling. 

‘A threat to local crooks’

Before becoming involved in politics, Liliya Chanysheva had a successful career working for Deloitte. In 2017, she left her job to lead Alexey Navalny’s political headquarters in Ufa. 

Liliya Chanysheva and Alexey Navalny after the opening of the Ufa campaign office. March 4, 2017.Liliya Chanysheva and Alexey Navalny after the opening of the Ufa campaign office. March 4, 2017.Evgeny Feldman

Navalny’s chief of staff Leonid Volkov called Chanysheva a “threat to local crooks.” Under her leadership, he said, Team Navalny’s campaign office in Ufa became “one of the strongest” in Russia. In particular, he noted her team’s investigation into the money spent on clothes for the wife of Bashkiria’s leader, their work to protect the Kushtau mountain from mining plans, and their organization of rallies in the region. 

Ivan Zhdanov, who led Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, called Chanysheva a “bright regional politician.” The charges against her, he claimed, are “local officials’ revenge and actions coordinated with the president’s administration.”

Chanysheva stopped working for Navalny’s political network in the spring of 2021, her husband Almaz Gatin told Ekho Moskvy. Since then, she’s been focused on “family affairs” — the two got married, went on a honeymoon, and were trying to start a family. “Recently, she hasn’t been working,” Gatin said.

In late April, prosecutors suspended the operations of Navalny’s campaign offices across the country, pending a court ruling on declaring his movement an illegal extremist group. Shortly thereafter, Leonid Volkov announced that the nationwide political network was closing up shop, in an effort to protect its employees and volunteers from criminal prosecution. Navalny’s movement was outlawed as “extremist” in June.

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We won’t give up Because you’re with us

I’m with you, Meduza

Story by Olga Morozova

Translation by Eilish Hart 


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