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Thursday, September 23, 2021

Russia. The Navalny Foundation recognized as extremist

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An appeal against the decision to recognize the Anti-Corruption Foundation as an extremist organization, founded by the oppositionist Alexei Navalny, was rejected by a court in Moscow. The decision to recognize Navalny’s staffs as extremist organizations was also upheld.

The activity of Navalny’s organization is forbidden on Russian territory – if the activists continue to operate, they face criminal liability – up to six years in prison. Navalny’s structures will be entered on the list of banned organizations in Russia kept by the Ministry of Justice of Russia. According to the independent Radio Swoboda, it is possible to appeal against the Wednesday’s court decision, but at the same time it has already come into force.

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Sitting behind closed doors

The following were recognized as extremist organizations: the Foundation for Fighting Corruption (FBK), the Foundation for the Defense of Citizens’ Rights, which Navalny founded as a continuator of the FBK, and the Navalny Staff movement – a network consisting of 37 political staffs in regions of Russia. All three organizations had previously been recognized by the authorities as the so-called foreign agents.

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The court rejected the Navalny’s foundation’s appeal to recognize it as extremistYURI KOCHETKOV / PAP / EPA

The court hearing was held on Wednesday behind closed doors. The verdict was announced by the associates of attorney Ivan Pavlov, who represents Navalny’s organization.

The hearing was closed at the request of the prosecutor’s office, according to which the criminal case files contain information that is state secret. Advocates were ordered to hand over their cell phones before the trial and communication in the court building was jammed. This was to prevent reporting of the court hearing.

A court in Russia recognizes Navalny’s structures as extremist organizations

The Moscow City Court recognized Navalny’s structures as extremist organizations in June. The decision was made immediately, without awaiting the result of the appeal. This meant that Navalny’s structures were banned from disseminating any information, making financial transactions, organizing assemblies and participating in elections.

Due to the expected court decision, Navalny’s staff ceased their activities in April. Almost all, except for two people, coordinators leading staffs were sentenced to fines or arrest in 2020-21. According to the RBK website, by the beginning of August, approximately 1/3 of Navalny’s group of 37 former chiefs of staff were subject to various types of criminal proceedings. Eight people emigrated from Russia.

The 15 former coordinators now have their own projects and policies. Nevertheless, the adoption by the Russian parliament of the law banning persons associated with extremist organizations from running in elections prevented at least six former coordinators who wanted to run in this year’s parliamentary and local elections.

A Russian court rejected the Navalny’s foundation’s appeal to recognize it as extremistYURI KOCHETKOV / PAP / EPA

85 entities on the list of extremist organizations

In April, the Moscow prosecutor’s office asked for Navalny’s structures to be recognized as extremist organizations. She claimed that the associates of the arrested opposition activist wanted to “create conditions for changing the foundations of the constitutional order, including using the ‘color revolution’ scenario”. Earlier, in January, Navalny was arrested and then imprisoned in a penal colony, where he is to serve a sentence of 2.5 years in prison.

There are currently 85 organizations on the list of organizations recognized as extremist in Russia. These are i.a. Russian and Ukrainian nationalist organizations, neo-Nazi and Islamist organizations, movements related to the prison subculture and fans (the so-called ultras). The Mejlis, the Crimean Tatars’ self-government, is also banned in Russia. The largest organization recognized as extremist in Russia was the religious structures of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Main photo source: YURI KOCHETKOV / PAP / EPA



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