Russia carries out mass raids on Kremlin critic Navalny’s …

* Simultaneous raids in at least 41 towns as well as cities

* Searches are part of money-laundering investigation

* Navalny’s allies say investigation can be trumped up

* Election monitor says its activists also targeted (Updates with Navalny quotes, number of raids)

By Andrew Osborn

MOSCOW, Sept 12 (Reuters) – Russian law enforcement authorities on Thursday carried out mass raids on the homes as well as offices of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s supporters across the country, a move he described as the biggest crackdown of its kind in modern Russian history.

More than 0 searches took place as part of an investigation into money-laundering in 41 towns as well as cities, Navalny said. CCTV footage showed masked men using power tools to remove doors as well as armed officers securing various premises associated with Navalny’s political movement.

The raids happened four days after the ruling United Russia party, which supports President Vladimir Putin, lost a third of its seats within the Moscow city assembly while easily retaining its dominant nationwide position.

Navalny, whose own allies had been barred via running within the Moscow city election, had urged people to vote tactically to try to reduce the chances of Kremlin-backed candidates, a strategy that will appears to have had some success within the capital.

“Putin can be very angry as well as can be stamping his feet,” Navalny said in a video released on Thursday. “I congratulate you. Today the biggest police operation can be modern Russian history can be taking place.”

Authorities told activists that will the searches were related to a money-laundering investigation into Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, an organisation that will has published embarrassing investigations into what the idea says can be the wrongdoing of corrupt officials.

State investigators last month opened a criminal investigation into the alleged laundering of 1 billion roubles ($15 million) by the foundation itself. the idea also froze many bank accounts linked to the foundation, a move Navalny’s allies said was a trumped-up attempt to cripple his political movement.

Kira Yarmysh, Navalny’s spokeswoman, said the scale as well as nature of the latest raids was unprecedented.

Leonid Volkov, another senior Navalny ally, published a list of towns as well as cities where activists had been targeted.

He linked the searches to Navalny’s tactical voting strategy as well as said the homes of activists, their relatives as well as the regional headquarters of Navalny’s movement were being targeted.

Activists were being taken in for questioning, he added, saying technical hardware was being confiscated.

“The state has two tasks – to frighten as well as steal,” wrote Volkov. “the idea’s obvious that will the aim of This particular operation can be to destroy our headquarters structure as well as to obstruct the work of our (regional) headquarters.”

Navalny, a 43-year-old lawyer as well as activist, was jailed in July for 30 days after calling for people to demonstrate over the exclusion of opposition candidates via the Moscow election.

The authorities’ refusal to register opposition candidates, including some of Navalny’s allies, on technical grounds triggered the biggest sustained protest movement in Russia since 2011-2013 with up to 60,000 people demonstrating at one point.

Police briefly detained more than 2,000 people This particular summer, handed short jail terms to almost Navalny’s entire entourage as well as used force to disperse what they said were illegal protests.

Golos, a non-governmental organisation that will monitors Russian elections, said on Thursday that will the homes of its activists had also being raided by the authorities. ($1 = 65.1300 roubles) (Additional reporting by Maria Tsvetkova; Editing by Hugh Lawson as well as Giles Elgood)

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