Network banned permanently: Russian court classifies Navalny's organization as
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Russian court classifies Navalny’s organization as “extremist”

Alexei Navalny

Alexei Navalny, the leader of the Russian opposition, stands behind a pane of glass at Babuskinsky District Court in Moscow during his trial in February (file photo)

Source: dpa / Alexander Zemlianichenko

The Russian judiciary has finally banned several organizations run by imprisoned Kremlin rival Alexei Navalny. A court in Moscow classified the associations as extremist. No longer allowed Nawalani’s supporters to run for elections.

eThe Moscow court has banned groups of imprisoned Kremlin opponent Alexei Navalny. This followed Wednesday’s request by the attorney general to classify its anti-corruption agency and its national network of regional offices as extremist organisations. According to observers, the ruling joins the recent measures taken by the authorities to weaken the opposition ahead of the parliamentary elections scheduled for September.

The court session for the Nawalni groups was held behind closed doors. Ivan Pavlov, head of the legal team, said the judge also rejected a request by the defense to allow opposition members to participate from prison via video. Other pleas for the defense were also rejected. There can be no question of equal representation of the parties to the case.

Nolany’s offices in dozens of Russian regions have been closed since April after prosecutors issued an order pending a court ruling on a temporary work ban.

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The Nuwalnis Foundation was established ten years ago. Since then, she has repeatedly exposed corruption among top Russian officials – often with the help of her widely acclaimed YouTube videos. In one of the passages, for example, there was talk of a luxurious palace on the Black Sea, which was said to have been built for President Vladimir Putin using a sophisticated corruption system. The video has already garnered about 117 million views, and the Kremlin has denied any connection to Putin.

Navalny also established an extensive network of regional offices in dozens of Russian regions in 2017 when he was about to run for Putin in the following year’s presidential election. The Kremlin critic’s nomination was eventually rejected, but he retained the position. The provincial headquarters soon began their own investigations into corruption among local politicians and recruiting activists, some of whom later ran for office. The offices also play a major role in organizing large-scale protests across the country in solidarity with Navalny.

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Navalny also announced his “Smart Voting” project through his regional offices. It is about a strategy to give one vote to the applicants who have the best chance of defeating the candidate of the Kremlin-backed United Russia party.

Only during the judicial review of the ban on Navalny’s groups, Russian deputies hastened to enact a new law. It stipulates that members classified as extremist groups are not allowed to run for public office. Putin signed the law into law only last week. With the court’s latest ruling, the hopes of many of Navalny’s allies who wanted to contest the parliamentary elections are likely to be dashed.

‘Team Noalani will not stop’

Ivan Zhdanov, a high-ranking fellow in Navalny’s campaign and former head of his foundation, accused the court of only waiting for the law to go into effect until it could declare Navalny’s organizations extremist. The exiled Zhdanov told independent broadcaster Duchd that corrupt officials will continue to be exposed and a “smart voting” strategy will be used. “Nalani’s team is not going to stop their activities, they shouldn’t hope for that.”

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