A Russian court late Wednesday night labeled Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s political organization “extremist,” effectively banning the movement’s activities.
The decision, which was widely expected after Russian prosecutors suspended the political organization’s activities in April, will prevent Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) from operating and effectively stop his allies from running in elections. It comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this month signed legislation that will ban those associated with extremist groups from running for office for between three to five years. Russians are set to vote in parliamentary elections this fall.
“Tonight, a court in Moscow recognized the FBK and Navalny’s headquarters network as extremist organizations,” a post on the Russian opposition leader’s Instagram said. “When corruption is the foundation of the government, fighters against corruption are cast as extremists.”
The post added: “We will not retreat from our goals and ideas. This is our country and we have no other. Please stay with us.”
Navalny’s top aide Lyubov Sobol tweeted: “At night, in a closed process, without access for the press and the public, the ‘court’ recognized the FBK and Alexei Navalny’s regional headquarters as extremist organizations. This process will go down in history textbooks as one of the most shameful during the years of Putin’s rule.”
The ruling comes ahead of U.S. President Joe Biden’s June 16 summit with Putin in Geneva, scheduled amid concerns from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, among others.
Navalny was arrested earlier this year and sentenced to two and a half years in prison after returning to Russia from Germany, where he was recovering from being poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok, an attack he blames on the Russian state. The Kremlin has denied any involvement.