Russia has designated the organization founded by jailed opposition activist Alexei Navalny as “extremists,” banning its supporters from participating in elections and threatening them with years of imprisonment.
A Moscow court ruled on Wednesday that Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) and its nationwide network of political activists should be grouped together with ISIS and Al-Qaida, a move that human rights groups say is part of the Kremlin Suppress the opposition movement Address to President Vladimir Putin before the parliamentary elections in September.
Putin’s most famous critic Navalny was detained in January and sentenced to life imprisonment the following month. Two and a half years imprisonment After returning to Russia, he recovered from nerve agent poisoning, which he claimed was an assassination attempt ordered by the Kremlin.
“The headquarters of FBK and Navalny are considered extremist organizations,” said lawyers for these organizations. “Therefore, their activities are prohibited in Russia, and all employees who continue to work for them face real threats of imprisonment.”
According to some transcripts provided by FBK lawyers, the Russian prosecutor argued that Navalny’s groupThrough their activism and organization to protest against Navalny’s imprisonment and Putin, “using their freedom slogans as a guise, they created conditions for destroying the social and socio-political situation… in order to forcibly change the government and let people take to the streets.
The prosecutor also stated that FBK payments to help protesters who were detained by the police and charged legal fees should be classified as “funding extremist activities,” indicating that those who receive the funds may be targeted for prosecution.
The court session lasted more than 12 hours, and it was held in private after ruling that some of the materials discussed were classified. FBK’s legal team stated that it will appeal the ruling.
A few days ago, Putin signed a law that made its members or supporters illegal. “Extreme” organization Participated in the Russian elections. Any member who donates to such organizations or shares materials created by them will face criminal prosecution and face up to 6 years in prison under Russian law.
Navalny’s regional network has offices in dozens of provinces and cities in Russia, legal shut down In April, waiting for the court’s decision. Senior assistants said that regardless of Wednesday’s ruling, they will continue to act alone.
This network is an important part of Navalny’s efforts September election Use so-called smart voting-an initiative to guide disgruntled voters to support the candidate most likely to defeat the incumbent from the ruling United Russia Party.
The US State Department condemned the court’s designation, saying it would further limit the ability of opposition candidates to appear on the ballot in September.
State Department spokesperson Ned Price said: “Through this action, Russia has effectively criminalized one of the country’s few independent political movements.” “Although the scale of today’s operation is particularly disturbing, it shows The Russian government is increasing its pressure on political opposition, civil society and independent media.”
The State Department called for the immediate release of Navalny and urged Russia to stop suppressing his supporters.
FBK, founded by Navalny 10 years ago, has published a series of investigations into alleged financial corruption of senior Russian government officials.
In January, after Navalny’s detention, Investigate It’s talking about a 1.4 billion U.S. dollar palace in the Black Sea, built by a group of oligarchs for Putin. Since then, it has been viewed 117 million times on YouTube.
The Kremlin denied that Putin or his family had any connection with the palace, and denied that it was related to Navalny’s poisoning.