Moscow apartment owned by opposition figure Navalny seized as Kremlin-linked businessman chases $1.1million debt
Bailiffs in Moscow have seized an apartment belonging to opposition figure Alexey Navalny. The move comes after his team was ordered to pay 88 million rubles ($1.1 million) in libel damages to a businessman dubbed "Putins Chef."
According to Kira Yarmysh, Navalny's spokeswoman, authorities took action against his property in the Maryino district of Moscow on August 27, a week after the activist was allegedly poisoned.It now can't be sold, donated, or mortgaged.
The seizure does not leave Navalny homeless, but it does stop him from making any transactions involving the asset. It is not believed to be his primary residence.
"Alexey Navalny's bank accounts were also frozen," Yarmysh said.
Navalny and his lawyer Lyubov Sobol owe 88 million rubles ($1.1 million) to Evgeny Prigozhin, who has been labeled "Putin's chef" by Western media. In October 2019, a Moscow court ordered the activist to remove a YouTube video claiming that food provided to schools by the 'Moskovsky Shkolnik' (Moscow Schoolboy) food production company caused an outbreak of dysentery.
The company successfully sued Navalny for defamation, winning damages. In August 2020, Prigozhin bought the debt from Moskovsky Shkolnik, meaning that the opposition figure now directly owes him the money.
After purchasing the debt, Prigozhin promised to strip Navalny and his associates "of their clothes and shoes." At the end of August, he went directly after his lawyer Lyubov Sobol, sending her account into a deficit of -34 million rubles (-$440,000).
On August 20, Navalny was hospitalized in the Siberian city of Omsk after he became ill on a flight from Tomsk to Moscow. Two days later, after a request from his family and associates, the activist was flown to Berlin for treatment at the city's Charité clinic. Over a week later, German authorities announced that the anti-corruption activist was poisoned with a substance from the Novichok group of nerve agents. The medical team in Omsk denies that any poison was found in Navalny's body. On September 23, he was discharged from hospital and is expected to make a full recovery.
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