A SALISBURY mother and daughter are setting up a support group in aid of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

The imprisoned anti-corruption campaigner has long been one of the most prominent faces of Russian opposition to President Vladimir Putin.

Feeling a connection to the figure, after it was suspected he was poisoned with Novichok, Salisbury residents Angela Craig, 89, and her daughter Alison want to express support to Navalny through a team that will send him food packages and letters.

Salisbury Journal: Alexei Navalny (AP Photo/Alexander Zemilianichenko))Alexei Navalny (AP Photo/Alexander Zemilianichenko))

In August of last year Navalny was treated in hospital in Germany following Novichok suspicions - the same nerve agent that killed Dawn Sturgess, and affected the lives of Russian spy Sergei Skripal, his daughter Yulia and ex-police officer Nick Bailey, in Salisbury in 2018.

On his return to Russia earlier this year he was arrested and later sentenced to prison, when a court found him guilty of disobeying probation terms following a money laundering case in 2014.

In August Navalny was charged with new crimes that could prolong his jail time by three years.

The treatment of Navalny generated "a real sense of anger", said Alison.

She was inspired to set up the support group following "the [suspected Novichok] events, that felt quite close to home for us, and we were getting angry that Putin can take this risk of chucking his weapons anywhere without repercussions".

Salisbury Journal: Novichok poisonings in Salisbury, March 2018Novichok poisonings in Salisbury, March 2018

Alison added: "Navalny is an inspiring figure, knowing he would be arrested for the things he stands for. We have always admired him knowing he is being starved to death.

"It seems an outrage we have been somewhat involved in this treatment without fighting support.

"It would be fantastic to actually succeed in getting a message to him, if not a food parcel, but this is one way of focussing attention on him and showing he has our support. Especially coming from Salisbury."

Alison said if the Salisbury response to the support group is a success, monthly meetings could be held to form more plans.

"In an ideal world we want him to be a free man," she added.

"This could be a dead end, but if it feels like it's working we will keep the momentum."

Mum Angela said that the sending of food parcels to Russia could "keep up awareness of what's happening to Navalny and his opposition to Putin".

She added: "Alison and I had a chat about this and with his [Navalny's] story, and as we were in the centre of the Russian drama with Novichok, the effect it had on the community, we wanted to do something.

"We recognise he's not a marvellous man, but they have been trying to get rid of him because he's such an effective opponent."

Navalny's release from prison is also a campaign backed by Amnesty International.

For more information or to highlight your support email Alison on alison.bemerton@gmail.com

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