CSO of the Week: Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation declared ‘extremist’

Week-ending 11 June 2021

This week – on 9 June 2021 – three civil society organisations associated with jailed prisoner of conscience Aleksei Navalny were declared extremist and banned. The best known and most influential of the three is the Anti-Corruption Foundation. The other two are the Citizens’ Rights Protection Foundation and ‘Navalny’s headquarters’. Amnesty International called the moves ‘the most cynical and brazen attempts so far to crack down on the rights to freedom of expression and association.’ The designation bans the groups from fundraising and means members and supporters may face up to six years in prison, as well as barring those associated with the organisations from standing for election.

The Moscow Times, 9 June 2021: A Russian court has outlawed the political and activist networks of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny as “extremist” in a closed-door hearing Wednesday, effectively dismantling one of Russia’s most potent opposition forces amid a wider crackdown in the lead-up to parliamentary elections. The designation bars opposition groups affiliated with Navalny from crowdfunded operations and puts their members and supporters at risk of up to six years in prison.

The Guardian, 9 June 2021: A Russian court is soon expected to outlaw opposition politician Alexei Navalny’s nationwide political organisation on the grounds it is “extremist”, in a landmark step forward for Vladimir Putin’s crackdown on political dissent. The highly anticipated court decision will effectively liquidate Navalny’s non-violent opposition movement and bar his allies from running for office for years, as the Kremlin seeks to erase the jailed opposition leader from Russian political life.

Amnesty International, 10 June 2021: Reacting to the news that a Russian court designated three organizations founded by Aleksei Navalny as “extremist”, Natalia Zviagina, Amnesty International’s Moscow Office Director, said: “With this decision, the Russian authorities have equated the activities of civil society organizations with serious crime, placing tens of thousands of Navalny’s supporters at risk of prosecution. This is one of the Kremlin’s most cynical and brazen attempts so far to crack down on the rights to freedom of expression and association. Combined with recent legislative changes, this ruling effectively bars anyone who has associated with or even supported these three organizations from standing for public office for up to five years. An unparalleled campaign of politically-motivated repression has rolled out in recent months in Russia. Vladimir Putin’s regime is compensating for its waning public support by creating an atmosphere of fear and despair, throwing its political rivals behind bars, forcing them out of the country and banning one after another those organizations held in disfavour by the regime.”

The Moscow Times, 10 June 2021: A Moscow court has outlawed the political and activist networks of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny as “extremist” in a closed-door hearing Wednesday. Here’s what it means for Russia’s most potent opposition force moving forward:

RFE/RL, 10 June 2021: Members of the political network built by Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny in Russia have pledged to continue their efforts to campaign for change and expose corruption in the upper echelons of power after a Moscow court declared their movement “extremist.” The Moscow City Court handed down its ruling late on June 9, preventing people associated with Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) and his collection of regional political offices from seeking public office.

The Guardian, 10 June 2021: The decision by a Moscow court to declare Alexei Navalny’s nationwide political organisation as “extremist” adds the group to a list associated with terrorist organisations such as al-Qaida and Islamic State. But for a guide to how Russia could treat Navalny’s supporters, a better example is the Jehovah’s Witnesses, a non-violent religious group that has felt the full extent of Russia’s law on extremism.

RFE/RL, 11 June 2021: The Moscow-based Memorial human rights center has condemned a court decision to label a group of organizations associated with jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny as extremist. In a statement on June 11, Memorial called the court’s decision to label Navalny’s regional campaign network, along with his Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) and his Citizens’ Rights Defense Foundation (FZPG), “another step toward the full replacement of political discussion and political competition with repression.”

RFE/RL, 11 June 2021: The director of jailed Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), which was labeled as “extremist” and banned in Russia this week, says the Kremlin critic is in “significantly better” condition as he recovers from a hunger strike that raised fears he may die. Speaking to the Ekho Moskvy radio station on June 11, Ivan Zhdanov said Navalny was monitoring the situation around the FBK and other news related to him and his associates via his lawyers.

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