On Wednesday evening, a Russian court called the political organization of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny “extremist”, effectively banning the movement’s activities.
The move, which was widely expected after Russian prosecutors suspended the political organization’s activities in April, will prevent the Navalny Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) from functioning and effectively prevent its allies from standing for election. It comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law earlier this month banning those associated with extremist groups from running for office for three to five years. The Russians are expected to vote in parliamentary elections this fall.
“Tonight, a Moscow court recognized the FBK and the Navalny headquarters network as extremist organizations,” said an Instagram post by the Russian opposition leader. “When corruption is the foundation of government, anti-corruption fighters are presented as extremists. ”
The post added: “We will not back down on our goals and ideas. This is our country and we have no other. Please stay with us.
Lyubov Sobol, Navalny’s main assistant tweeted: “At night, in a closed-door process, without access for the press and the public, the ‘tribunal’ recognized the FBK and the regional headquarters of Alexei Navalny as extremist organizations. This process will go down in history textbooks as one of the most shameful during the years of Putin’s reign. “
The move comes ahead of US President Joe Biden’s summit with Putin in Geneva on June 16, scheduled amid concerns of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, among others.
Navalny was arrested earlier this year and sentenced to two and a half years in prison after returning to Russia from Germany, where he was recovering from poisoning with the nerve agent Novichok, an attack he blames on the Russian state. The Kremlin has denied any involvement.