CSO of the Week: The Anti-Corruption Foundation suspended and blacklisted as a ‘terrorist-linked’ organisation

Week-ending 30 April 2021

This week, on 26 April 2021, the Prosecutor’s office suspended the activities of the Anti-Corruption Foundation, founded and led by Aleksei Navalny who remains imprisoned in Russia, ahead of a court ruling expected to ban the organisation as ‘extremist.’ On 29 April Navalny’s team said it was disbanding its network of regional campaign offices, before the court hearing due to consider the prosecutors’ request to declare the organisation ‘extremist.’ On 30 April Russia’s state financial watchdog Rosfinmonitoring blacklisted the Anti-Corruption Foundation as a “terrorist-linked” organization. A court ruling banning the Anti-Corruption Foundation as ‘extremist’ is expected in May.


The Guardian, 26 April 2021: Russia’s prosecutor has suspended the activities of Alexei Navalny’s nationwide political organisation ahead of a court ruling that is expected to outlaw the opposition movement as “extremist” and threaten supporters with long jail terms. In a decision published on Monday, the prosecutor banned his regional headquarters from holding opposition rallies or engaging in elections activity pending a landmark court decision that could cripple the democratic opposition to Vladimir Putin. The designation is part of a sweeping crackdown on Navalny’s activities, from sentencing the Kremlin critic to a two-and-a-half-year prison term to dozens of arrests of his top aides and regional staff.

RFE/RL, 26 April 2021: The Moscow City Prosecutor’s Office has suspended all activities at the offices of jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny’s headquarters across the country and asked the Moscow City Court to do the same for Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) and the Citizens’ Rights Protection Foundation (FZPG). Vladimir Voronin, a lawyer for the FBK, said on April 26 that the prosecutor’s office made the decision to suspend the activities of Navalny’s headquarters on its own, but needed to ask the court to suspend the activities of the FBK and the FZPG because it didn’t have the authority to do so. The court will decide on this motion on the same day, he added.* Ivan Zhdanov, the director of the FBK, said in a tweet that the ban will remain in effect until a decision is taken by the court on an application by the Moscow prosecutor’s office to classify the organizations as extremist. “They are screaming out with this move: We are afraid of your activities, we are afraid of your rallies, we are afraid of smart voting,” Ivan Zhdanov, the director of the FBK, said in a tweet on April 26. The post also included a photo of the motion from the prosecutors.

RFE/RL, 26 April 2021: The state prosecutor spearheading a potentially devastating bid to brand Aleksei Navalny’s network of organizations “extremist” is no stranger to the Kremlin foe: In 2019, a report by Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) alleged that the lawman’s family controlled undeclared property worth millions of dollars. The plaintiff in the case under which the FBK, the Citizens’ Rights Defense Foundation (FPZG), and Navalny’s offices nationwide could be declared extremist is the head of the Moscow city prosecutor’s office, Denis Popov. Popov’s signature also stands at the bottom of an April 26 order freezing the activities of Navalny’s network of regional branches pending the outcome of the Moscow City Court’s closed-door hearings. His office has also asked the court to do the same with the FBK and the FPZG.

Amnesty International, 26 April 2021: Responding to the news that the Moscow City Prosecutor’s Office has suspended the activities of Aleksei Navalny’s regional offices until the court rules whether they should be banned as “extremist” alongside two other organizations created by Navalny, Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia Director, said: “The audacity and scale of this cynical attack are unprecedented, effectively suppressing the rights to freedom of expression and association of thousands. If and when the decision is taken to outlaw the targeted organizations, Navalny’s supporters, who are effectively the largest political opposition group in the country, could face criminal prosecution for any legitimate political activism or human rights work.

RFE/RL, 27 April 2021: A Russian court has approved a motion by prosecutors to suspend some of the activities of jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) and his Citizens’ Rights Defense Foundation (FZPG). “A judge of the Moscow City Court has considered the motion of the plaintiff to take interim measures of protection. The judge of the Moscow City Court has decided to use interim measures of protection in the form of prohibiting certain acts with regards to the Anti-Corruption Foundation and the Citizens’ Rights Defense Foundation noncommercial organizations,” the court’s press office said on April 27. According to the court, the move does not halt all activities at the two foundations. The court did not reveal the details of the restrictions, saying that the materials of the case were classified.

The Guardian, 29 April 2021: The Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has appeared in court via a video link from jail, looking gaunt after a hunger strike. The 44-year-old is serving a two-and-a-half-year sentence for parole violations on an earlier conviction that he says was politically motivated. In his first appearance since his hunger strike, which he has said he is gradually ending, a shaven-headed Navalny looked physically drained and seemed to have lost weight. Navalny declared his hunger strike in prison on 31 March to demand proper medical care for leg and back pain. He said on 23 April that he would start gradually ending it after getting medical care, even as the political prospects for him and his movement darkened. On Thursday his team said it was disbanding its network of regional campaign offices, before a court hearing due to consider a request from prosecutors to declare the main pillars of Navalny’s political organisation as extremist.

RFE/RL, 29 April 2021: A close associate of jailed Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny says the Kremlin critic’s regional network will be disbanded just ahead of an expected court hearing over a request from prosecutors to declare the main pillars of Navalny’s political organization as “extremist.” In a video posted on YouTube on April 29, Leonid Volkov, head of the Navalny regional headquarters network, called the move a “gut punch,” saying that it had become “impossible” to maintain operations amid a crackdown by Russian authorities.

The Guardian, 30 April 2021: Russia’s state financial watchdog has added Alexei Navalny’s network of regional headquarters to a terrorism watchlist as the Kremlin appears poised to outlaw the opposition leader’s nationwide political movement. “Navalny headquarters” appeared on Friday on a searchable database of terrorist and extremist groups published by the state watchdog Rosfinmonitoring, which allows the government to close its bank accounts. Separately, a Russian court may soon pronounce that the political offices and his Anti-Corruption Foundation are extremist organisations, threatening his staff, supporters, and even crowdfunding donors with jail terms. A top adviser, Leonid Volkov, earlier this week announced that he would be disbanding the regional headquarters in order to protect the staff and the supporters who worked there.

RFE/RL, 30 April 2021: The regional campaign offices of jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny have been placed on the Russian financial regulator’s list of organizations involved in “terrorism and extremism.” The network appeared on an updated list maintained by Russia’s financial monitoring service, Rosfinmonitoring, on April 30, a day after the network of Navalny’s regional offices was disbanded.

The Moscow Times, 30 April 2021: Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s political network has been blacklisted as a “terrorist-linked” organization, Russia’s state financial watchdog Rosfinmonitoring said Friday. “Navalny Networks” now appears on Rosfinmonitoring’s searchable database of groups and persons with links to terrorist activities, which includes al-Qaeda, the Taliban and the Islamic State. The designation means that authorities can block the organization’s bank accounts. A Moscow court ruling banning the network’s crowdfunded work, as well as Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), as “extremist” organizations is expected next month. The ruling would ban the nationwide network of some 50 regional headquarters from operating and put members and supporters at risk of lengthy jail terms. The network, which was founded in 2017 during Navalny’s quashed attempt to run for president and had since made its main work instigating protests and investigating corruption, formally disbanded Thursday in anticipation of the Moscow court ruling.

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