Court marshals have seized Alexei Navalny’s Moscow flat in what appears to be a warning to the Russian opposition leader ahead of his possible return to Russia.
The 44-year-old politician was discharged from a German hospital on Wednesday after spending weeks in a medically induced coma following a poisoning in Siberia.
Mr Navalny has vowed to return to Russia after he makes a full recovery in Germany, and the Kremlin has said there is nothing stopping him from doing so.
In what appears to be a warning ahead of his return, court marshals have seized his two-bedroom apartment on the outskirts of Moscow to enforce last year's £900,000 court ruling in favour of a catering company linked to Kremlin-connected businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin.
Kira Yarmysh, Mr Navalny’s spokeswoman, said in a video statement on Thursday that the court marshals’ ruling to freeze the politician’s bank accounts and place a ban on any property deals related to his Moscow flat was issued a week after Mr Navalny suddenly fell ill on a plane due to what later turned out to be a poisoning with the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok.
The lawsuit relates to an investigation by Mr Navalny’s allies into a dysentery outbreak in Moscow schools linked to lunches provided by Mr Prigozhin’s company.
Russian courts previously awarded damages to the parents of children who got dysentery at several schools in December 2018 but a separate court ruling found that an investigation by Mr Navalny’s allies have hurt the professional reputation of Mr Prigozhin’s company.
“Instead of siding with the affected children, the court stood by Prigozhin by freezing accounts and seizing the apartment of a person who was in coma,” Ms Yarmysh said.
“This is probably all you need to know about Russian justice."
She added that Mr Navalny could still live in his Moscow flat.
Bank accounts of Mr Navalny’s anti-corruption foundation and several of his allies have been frozen in connection with the same lawsuit.
The top Kremlin critic, Mr Navalny in recent years was found guilty and given a suspended sentence in two separate criminal cases widely regarded as politically motivated.
He and his family have faced a harassment campaign in state media and had their bank accounts frozen in the past in what has been described as a Kremlin attempt to keep the pressure on the opposition politician.