Navalny network added to Russian extremist list

Moscow (AFP) –


Russia on Friday added jailed opposition politician Alexei Navalny's political network to its database of terrorist and extremist organisations, banning the group in Russia.

The network appeared on a list maintained by Russia's financial monitoring service after Rosfinmonitoring said Friday it had updated the list. The network of Navalny's regional offices had disbanded Thursday in anticipation of the move.

Organisations on the list include the Islamic State group and Al-Qaeda.

It was not immediately clear whether the move was related to a request by prosecutors earlier this month to designate President Vladimir Putin's best known domestic critic's regional network and his Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) as extremist organisations.

But the former coordinator of Navalny's offices in Moscow, Oleg Stepanov, indicated on Telegram that the move was connected to the ongoing court case.

"Well of course, why wait? After all, the decision of the 'court' is already known in advance: fighting corruption in Putin's Russia is 'extremism,'" he wrote.

"They don't even try to create the appearance of legality."

The FBK did not appear on the list.

The court hearings in the case are expected to resume on May 17.

On Thursday, Navalny's key aide Leonid Volkov said the regional network was disbanding ahead of the court ruling, citing a threat of lengthy jail terms for supporters and members.

The regional network was founded during Navalny's presidential campaign in 2018, although the opposition figure was barred from running.

It later supported his corruption investigations and his Smart Voting strategy, which directs voters to cast their ballots for candidates best placed to defeat Kremlin-linked opponents.

Navalny, 44, was arrested in January on his return to Russia from Germany, where he spent months recovering from a poisoning attack he blames on Putin.

He is serving a two-and a-half year sentence in a penal colony outside Moscow for violating parole terms on old fraud charges he says are politically motivated.