Alexei Navalny’s flat search by ‘masked men’ as UK considers Russia sanctions

Masked men have broken into the Moscow flat of detained Vladmir Putin critic Alexei Navalny, according to one of his allies.

Ivan Zhdanov, head of Mr Navalny‘s anti-corruption foundations, said that they broke down the door of his apartment on Wednesday afternoon and searched it.

Mr Zhdanov added that Mr Navalny’s brother, Oleg, was in the apartment at the time.

The staunch critic of the Russian leader was detained in the Russian capital last week after stepping off a flight from Germany, where he was being treated following his poisoning last year.

The apparent raid of Mr Navalny’s flat comes as the UK government revealed it was keeping sanctions on Russia under review, in light of the arrest.

Wendy Morton, a foreign office minister, said in the Commons: “We keep further sanctions designations under constant review.

“However it would not be appropriate to comment at this stage on possible future designations as this could undermine their impact.”

Responding to Ms Morton, Conservative MP Sir Roger Gale, who tabled an urgent question in the Commons, said: “I spoke with the Russian ambassador, he chose to call me this morning, Andrei Kelin, and he made it absolutely clear to me during that call that the Russians regarded Mr Navalny as a prisoner who had broken his bail conditions and therefore would not be released.

“Under those circumstances, I have to say that I still regard this is a gross breach of the Convention on Human Rights and I hope that (Ms Morton) will do everything in her power to underscore that and to make it plain that this conduct is completely unacceptable.”

The UK government has already placed sanctions on six people and one organisation, Ms Morton added.

Tory MP Tom Tugendhat, chair of the Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee, likened the Russian government to a “gangster elite”, and called for a list of the “ill-gotten gains that President Putin has stolen off the Russian people over the last 20 years”.

Over the weekend, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab criticised the Russian authorities for their tactics during the pro-Navalny demonstrations, saying he condemned the “use of violence against peaceful protesters and journalists” while calling on its government to “release citizens detained during peaceful demonstrations”.

Since his arrest, Mr Navalny’s team has released a huge video investigation into the construction and alleged slush fund behind what is known as “Putin’s palace”, a £1bn private residence on Russia’s Black Sea coast.

Calling it “Putin’s biggest secret”, Mr Navalny and his team revealed new details about the sprawling complex near the resort town of Gelendzhik which has long been rumoured to belong to the Russian president.

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