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Russian court declares Navalny groups “extremist” ahead of election


Wednesday’s decision targeted both Navalny’s regional political offices and the Anti-Corruption Foundation he founded. The foundation, known as FBK, is investigating allegations of corruption in Russia.

The court ordered the liquidation of FBK and the transfer of its assets to the property of the Russian Federation, according to a press release from the Moscow City Court.

The court also banned the activities of Navalny regional political offices in Russia, which have sparked protests in the past, the statement said. Their offices had already been dissolved in anticipation of today’s decision.

“The decision is subject to immediate execution in terms of the cessation of the activities of these organizations,” said the press service of the Moscow City Court after the hearing.

Both groups deny the accusation of extremism and their lawyers have said they will appeal the ruling.

Team 29, the legal advocacy group that represented the two organizations, detailed the repercussions of the court order in a statement Wednesday evening: “Organizations were prohibited from disseminating information, carrying out financial transactions, as well. than to participate in elections and organize actions. Ordinary employees of the organization, as well as those who commit “deliberate actions related to the continuation or renewal of the activities of this organization,” face up to six years in prison. “

The US State Department on Wednesday condemned the decision, calling the scale of the action “particularly disturbing” and “indicative of the Russian government’s growing crackdown on political opposition, civil society and independent media.”

“With this action, Russia effectively criminalized one of the few independent political movements in the country,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said, adding that it was “not the first time that the Russian authorities called groups “extremists” in order to stigmatize their supporters and justify abuses against them. “

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab called the move “perverse” and “Kafka-esque”. “This is another Kafka-style attack on those who stand up against corruption and for open societies, and it is a deliberate attempt to effectively ban real political opposition in Russia,” he added.

The hearing, which began at 10:00 am local time on Wednesday and lasted over 12 hours, was held behind closed doors as court documents were classified as “secret”.

Navalny himself did not attend, despite his request to join the session, according to a social media post published after the court’s decision was announced. “The process took place behind closed doors and I myself was not involved. Even though we asked for it, I was not even invited,” the jailed Kremlin critic wrote on Instagram.

“We are not a name, not a piece of paper or a desk … Now we will understand everything. We will change. We will evolve. We will adapt. But we will not back down from our goals and that is. our country and we have no other, ”Navalny said in the post.

Navalny was jailed earlier this year by a Moscow court for allegedly violating probation terms in a 2014 case in which he was given a three-and-a-half-year suspended sentence.

As a result of the decision, a large part of Navalny’s squad and supporters will not be able to stand in the Russian elections in September. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday signed new legislation banning members of extremist groups from running for office.

The case began in April, when the Moscow prosecutor’s office filed a complaint to brand Navalny’s organizations as extremists.

In a statement after Wednesday’s hearing, the prosecutor said he considered the court’s decision “legal and reasonable”, and stressed that the headquarters of FBK and Navalny regularly organize unauthorized events.

Navalny and his team are nonetheless committed to continuing their efforts to implement political change in Russia. In another Instagram post shared after the hearing, Navalny urged Russians to vote tactically for any candidate on a ballot most capable of overthrowing an incumbent president of Putin’s ruling United Russia party.

Reporting provided by Arnaud Siad and Jennifer Hansler of CNN.

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