The anti-prison leader’s anti-corruption foundation, the regional office network ‘extremist’ party, says the state court.
Russia’s state prosecutors have asked a court to label groups linked to prison opposition leader Alexei Navalny as “extremist organizations”, a move that would ban them and expel activists for long prison terms.
If approved Friday, the word would mark one of the most serious steps taken by the authorities to target a network of groups identified by hardline critics who went on a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence for President Vladimir Putin’s no-confidence motion.
Russia’s list of “extremist organizations” currently includes 33 entities, including the ISIL armed group, the Taliban, and Jehovah’s Witnesses. The presence of these groups is banned in Russia, and participating in them can lead to long prison terms.
People who organize the activities of such groups can be jailed for up to 10 years, those who take part in them can be criminally convicted and the groups themselves are banned from any kind of banking activities.
Moscow’s state lawyer says he decided to appeal to the court after studying the Navalny Anti-Corruption Foundation and the campaign teams he has formed in regions across the country.
“Under the guise of liberal slogans, these organizations are engaged in creating conditions to destabilize the social and socio-political situation,” the prosecutor said in a statement.
It said, “The aim of their activities is to effectively create the conditions for changing the use of the ‘caste revolution’ scenario on the basis of a constitutional order.”
For years, an outspoken Putin critic, Navalny has staged street protests across the country and created an online probe into allegations of corruption by senior Russian officials.
The 44-year-old, who was banned from running in the 2014 election against Putin, was jailed in February for violating parole, he said.
Navalny was arrested at the border on his way back to Russia from Germany where a nerve agent was rescuing him from poisoning.
His most prominent ally is accused of violating multiple demonstrations that took place abroad or in Russia to protest against his imprisonment.
Separately on Friday, a court sentenced a cameraman who worked for Navalny’s crew to two years in prison for inciting “extremism.”
An anti-government tweet he allegedly wrote after the suicide of a Russian journalist.
Navalny’s colleagues promised to continue their work.
“Putin has just declared full-scale political repression in Russia,” Leonid Volkov, head of Navalny’s regional network, wrote on Twitter shortly after the announcement from prosecutors.
In a statement on Facebook, Volkov and FB director Ivan Javdanov said they had no doubt that Putin’s court would rule but that they would continue to work “peacefully, publicly and effectively”.