Russian police searching Navalny ally's flat treated to Beethoven piano recital

Andrew Osborn
·2-min read

By Andrew Osborn

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian investigators searching the Moscow flat of an ally of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny were given an unusual welcome late on Wednesday - a spirited Beethoven piano recital by the activist who they later arrested.

Police are targeting Navalny's allies after tens of thousands of people took to the streets on Saturday to demand he be released from jail, something a judge on Thursday refused to do.

Navalny's allies have called for new protests this weekend.

Police in Moscow went to the flat of Anastasia Vasilyeva, head of the Russia's Doctors Alliance trade union and a close ally of Navalny, late on Wednesday.

In a show of quiet defiance, footage of the moment shows Vasilyeva playing Beethoven on a white piano as police inform her they are about to search her flat.

Vasilyeva continues to play, temporarily drowning out the words of a policewoman informing her that she must hand over all her electronic devices. She then stops playing and asks if anyone is going to applaud her.

Nobody claps.

Lawyer Dmitry Djulai said on Facebook that investigators later detained Vasilyeva for 48 hours in connection with alleged and unspecified violations of COVID-19 rules.

The moment she was detained was also caught on video.

"Her detention was inappropriate and stupid revenge for her human rights activities," wrote Djulai.

"Anastasia's two children, minors, were left at home and tomorrow her patients will not be able to see her."

Vasilyeva helped treat Navalny in 2017 after he suffered a serious chemical burn to his right eye as a result of an assault by pro-Kremlin activists.

In a video she made on Wednesday before being arrested, she called on people to not be afraid and take to the streets on Sunday to demand Navalny be freed from jail.

"I really hope to see you there. Bye!" she said.

(Reporting by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Janet Lawrence)