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Pro-Navalny Subway Workers Just Got Some Bad News

Dozens of Moscow Metro employees fired after signing petition in support of opposition leader
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 19, 2021 7:31 AM CDT

(Newser) – If you're an Alexei Navalny fan and work for Moscow's subway system, make sure management or the Kremlin doesn't get wind of it. Per the CBC, dozens of workers with the "famously ornate" Moscow Metro, some who've been employed by the transit agency for years, were summoned over the past week before higher-ups and told to submit their resignations. This apparently took place because they or a relative had signed up on a website pushing to free the 44-year-old dissident, serving out a 2 1/2-year sentence in a penal colony on charges he says were trumped up by the Kremlin. Dozhd TV reached out and got confirmation from at least 33 now-former Metro workers—the Moscow Times reports it could more than 100—that they'd been told by management to sign papers saying they were quitting and waiving their rights to termination benefits, per Radio Free Europe.

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If they didn't, they say they were told, they'd be fired for being insubordinate, which would look worse on their records. A rep for the subway workers' union tells the Times the ex-employees—which include train conductors, ticket agents, station attendants, and mechanics, among others—believe their firing is linked to a database leak that exposed hundreds of thousands of names of Navalny supporters. The union plans on challenging the firings with the Moscow Metro prosecutor's office and possibly via lawsuits. RFE notes the terminations are part of the Kremlin's more wide-ranging efforts to crush the pro-Navalny movement that opposes Russian President Vladimir Putin. Meanwhile, Navalny's lawyers say a court hearing on a request to label that movement "extremist," originally set for May 17, was delayed until June 9 after a Moscow prosecutor presented a slew of new evidence, per Reuters. The dissident's attorneys say they need more time to review the new materials. (Read more Alexei Navalny stories.)

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