25 April 2021
The photo shows Valery Borshchev, co-chair of the Moscow Helsinki Group
Source: Moscow Helsinki Group [original source: Эхо Москвы]
On April 26, 2021 the court case begins regarding the identification of the Anti-Corruption Foundation (the FBK)*, Navalny’s HQ and legal entities associated with the FBK as extremist organisations, and their subsequent liquidation and banning.
The court has been declared closed to the public and the press, and the materials of the charge are classified as “state secrets”: only the FBK’s lawyer can see them, and only on the day of the hearing.
What accusations are the Moscow Prosecutor’s Office making against the FBK and Navalny’s headquarters? Here are some quotes published by the media: “Under the guise of liberal slogans, these organisations are engaged in creating conditions for the destabilisation of the social and socio-political situation …”; “… their actual goal is to create conditions for changing the foundations of the constitutional system, including a ‘colour revolution’ scenario…”; “… these organisations carry out the activities of foreign and international organisations on the territory of the Russian Federation, in respect of which a decision was made to recognize their activities as undesirable”.
None of these vague and imprecise formulations has anything to do with extremism and extremist activity. All the specifics and evidence are declared to be “state secrets”, which in the context of public accusation speaks of its complete legal inconsistency.
On 21 April in many Russian cities tens of thousands of people once again attended peaceful protests, in support of demands for doctors to be permitted to see Aleksei Navalny, outraged by the very fact of his being in prison and the evident absence of an investigation into his attempted murder.
Among the protesters were not only his direct supporters, but people who want change in Russia, the release of political prisoners, and a change of government at the elections. They all sympathise with Aleksei Navalny and his closest supporters, who are being persecuted, searched and arrested. The protesters believe to some degree or other that the work of the FBK and Navalny’s headquarters is important and useful, that it helps to overcome apathy and revitalise public politics. The activity of Navalny’s supporters has united people in Russia who are ready to go out onto the streets, seeing peaceful protests as an opportunity to convey their demands to the authorities.
The FBK is being persecuted for making public what is already known to every Russian: the rich are getting richer, the standard of living is falling, social problems are not being solved and officials live in shameless luxury. This gives rise to social discord, and politicians and candidates will inevitably talk about the matter in any election. And any of them can now be recognised as an extremist as per the FBK.
The identification of the FBK and Navalny’s headquarters as extremist organisations deprives hundreds of thousands of peaceful, politically active and law-abiding citizens of Russia of hopes for a real dialogue with the authorities and of the very possibility of achieving political changes in Russia peacefully.
Is the political leadership of the country aware of the consequences of the decision, which is brewing for the “secret” court session of the Moscow City Court on April 26? Do the president and his entourage understand that this is a direct path to the escalation of civil confrontation; that instead of dialogue, they are in essence inviting people to a civil war?
We call on all social and political forces in Russia to peacefully and decisively oppose the identification of the FBK and Navalny’s headquarters as extremist organisations.
Valery Borshchev, co-chairman of the Moscow Helsinki Group
Svetlana Gannushkina, chairperson of the Civic Assistance Committee *
Natalia Evdokimova, member of the Human Rights Council under the President of the Russian Federation
Igor Kalyapin, member of the Human Rights Council under the President of the Russian Federation
Oleg Orlov, member of the Board of International “Memorial” *
Lev Ponomarev, Civil Human Rights Project “For Human Rights”
Nikolay Svanidze, member of the Human Rights Council under the President of the Russian Federation
Natalia Taubina, Director of the Public Verdict Foundation *
Alexander Cherkasov, Chairman of the Council of the Human Rights Centre “Memorial” *
* an organisation considered by the Russian authorities to be a foreign agent
Translated by Anna Bowles