A Moscow court has officially named the organization of Russia‘s best-known opposition leader as ‘extremist organization‘. This prohibits the organization of Aleksey Navalny from now on. His supporters will no longer be able to participate in the Duma elections held in September.
The ruling followed after a hearing behind closed doors; the case is treated as a ‘state secret‘ by the authorities.
Previously, the judge decided that Navalny’s team should immediately suspend all his work pending the ruling. Team members were not allowed to publish any more online, no more protests, and their bank accounts were frozen.
Al-Qaida, IS, Navalny
According to the Russian state, Navalny‘s organization is engaged in “destabilizing the country”. Also “helps those international organizations operate on Russian territory”. The proprunal therefore demanded a total ban. Now that the organization has officially been stamped extremist, Navalny’s organization falls into the same line as Al-Qaida and IS. Jehovah‘s Witnesses have also been on the Russian extremist list since 2017.
This makes Navalny’s teammates virtually impossible to carry out their work. Even for sharing social media posts related to Navalny‘s organization, someone can theoretically disappear behind bars for years. Let alone for calling or participating in demonstrations.
The decision is a big blow in the face of the Russian opposition. “This will open the way to hundreds of criminal cases, each of our staff will be attacked and may receive at least two to six years in prison,” Navalny’s team said when the prosecution‘s claim was announced.
Since the beginning of this year, police are increasingly arresting protesters, opposition politicians and lawyers. Critical journalists and media are murdered by labeling them as “foreign agents.” New laws are also being adopted by the State Duma on the conveyor line, making Russians increasingly easier for anything and anything to be arrested.
Correspondent Iris de Graaf looked for CCEIT on 3 young critical Russians, who recently had to deal with them:
According to analysts and human rights organizations, there is “the worst repression in the country since Soviet times”. And that seems to have everything to do with the September parliamentary elections this year.
Navalny’s organization also establishes that connection, now that Navalny‘s regional campaign offices also fall under the extremism label. Navalny’s opposition network not only played a major role in organizing demonstrations throughout Russia, but also mobilized Navalny‘s system of ‘smart voices‘ created by Navalny.
This system calculates which opposition candidate has the best chance of defeating the candidate of Putin’s United Russia party per seat. United Russia is more unpopular than ever and has recently lost numerous seats in the regions, while Navalny‘s regional offices resulted in local election successes. The State Duma passed a law last month prohibits those involved in extremism from being able to run for parliament.
The Navalny campaign no longer exists
Navalny’s staff already saw the mood hanging and closed all offices on April 29 as a precaution. Social media accounts were taken offline and messages deleted. A number of employees went abroad. “Navalny‘s campaign no longer exists,” said Chief of Staff Leonid Volkov at the time.
It is still unclear to what extent the ‘extremist organization‘ stamp is retroactive, and how its enforcement will be on old social media posts and previously published YouTube videos. Navalny’s videos are hundreds of thousands, sometimes watched millions of times.