Russian court declares Navalny groups 'extremist' ahead of elections

A Moscow court on Wednesday ruled that two organizations linked to jailed Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny son “extremist” grupos — forcing them to shut down and rendering their members ineligible to run in upcoming elections.

Wednesday’s ruling targeted both Navalny’s regional political offices and the Anti-Corruption Foundation which he founded. The foundation, known as FBK, conducts investigations into alleged corruption in Russia.
    The court ordered that FBK be liquidated and its property transferred into the ownership of the Russian Federation, according to a statement from the Moscow City Court’s press service.
      The court also banned the activities of Navalny’s regional political offices around Russia, which has mobilized protests in the past, la declaración decía. Their offices had already been disbanded in anticipation of today’s ruling.
        The decision is subject to immediate execution in terms of the termination of the activities of these organisations,” the Moscow City Court’s press service said following the hearing.
        Both groups deny the charge of extremism, and their lawyers said they would appeal the decision.
          Team 29, the legal advocacy group that represented the two organizations, detailed the repercussions of the court order in a statement on Wednesday night: “The organizations were banned from spreading any information, performing financial transactions, as well as participating in elections and organizing 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,’ will face up to six years in prison.
          The US State Department on Wednesday condemned the ruling, calling the scale of the actionparticularly disturbing” y “indicative of the Russian government’s widening crackdown on political opposition, civil society, and independent media.
          With this action, Russia has effectively criminalized one of the country’s few remaining independent political movements,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said, adding it wasnot the first time Russian authorities have labeled groupsextremistin order to stigmatize supporters and justify abuses against them.
          UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab described the ruling asperverse” y “Kafka-esque.” “It is another Kafka-esque attack on those standing up against corruption and for open societies, and is a deliberate attempt to effectively outlaw genuine political opposition in Russia,” él agregó.
          The court hearing, which started at 10am local on Wednesday and lasted over 12 horas, was held behind closed doors as the court materials were classified assecret.
          Navalny himself did not participate, despite his request to join the session, according to a social media post published after the court’s decision was announced. “The process was held behind closed doors, and I myself did not participate in it. Even though we demanded it, I was not even invited,” the jailed Kremlin critic wrote on Instagram.
          We are not a name, not a piece of paper or an office…. We will now figure everything out. We’ll change. We’ll evolve. We’ll adapt. But we will not retreat from our goals and ideas. This is our country and we have no other,” Navalny said in the post.
          Navalny was imprisoned earlier this year by a Moscow court for allegedly violating the probation terms of a 2014 case in which he received a suspended sentence of three and a half years.
          In the wake of the ruling, much of Navalny’s team and supporters will be barred from running in Russia’s elections in September. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday signed new legislation barring members of extremist groups from running for office.
          The case began in April, when the Moscow Prosecutor’s Office who filed a lawsuit seeking to label Navalny’s organizations as extremist.
            In a statement after the Wednesday hearing the prosecutor said that they considered the court’s decision aslegal and reasonable,” and stressed that FBK and Navalny’s headquarters regularly organized unauthorized events.
            Navalny and his team have nevertheless vowed to continue their efforts to implement political change in Russia. In the Instagram post shared after the hearing, Navalny encouraged Russians to vote tactically in support of any single candidate on a ballot most capable of unseating an incumbent from Putin’s ruling party United Russia.

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