Russia’s jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s political and anti-corruption network could be banned by a Russian court. The news agency AFP reported on Sunday.
A Moscow court is set to hold a closed-door hearing on the case on Monday. In the case, government prosecutors have pleaded guilty to declaring Navalny’s political group and anti-corruption foundation an “extremist” organization. There are fears that the court may ban Navalny’s network under the RG.
If the court orders a ban on Navalny’s network, it would be seen as a far-reaching blow against the Kremlin’s biggest political opponent.
The evidence used in the case is said to be a confidential state document. Navalny’s lawyer has been told he will have a chance to see the case documents before the hearing.
If Navalny’s political groups and anti-corruption foundations are declared “extremist” organizations, they will be considered by the Russian authorities as militant groups like Islamic State (IS), al-Qaeda, and the Taliban.
Human rights group Amnesty International has expressed concern that if Navalny’s political and anti-corruption networks were indeed banned, it would be a serious blow to freedom of expression and the right to organize in post-Soviet Russia.
Even wearing a T-shirt with Navalny’s slogan “Russia will be happy” could be banned in the country. If that is the case, if someone wears such a T-shirt, he may have to go to jail.
If any of Navalny’s colleagues carry out activities after the organization is banned, they could face imprisonment.
Navalny has already been jailed by Russian authorities. Many of his comrades have also been sent to jail. Authorities say it would be illegal to call a protest in support of Navalny. Thousands of Navalny supporters have been arrested in connection with the protests. Many of Navalny’s colleagues have left Russia to escape the wrath of the government, including imprisonment and fines.
Critics have accused President Vladimir Putin of taking aggressive steps to reduce Navalny’s political and social influence in Russia.
Ivan Jadanov, director of the Navalny Anti-Corruption Foundation, left Russia earlier this year. He said the current events reminded him of the Soviet era. Then anyone was declared a spy or a foreign agent. Then there would be a secret trial.
Ivan said Putin wanted to take Russia back to Soviet times.
According to Ivan, banning Navalny’s organization as an extremist would open the door to mass repression in Russia.
Ivan said the Russian authorities want to destroy them. Because their activities are putting the authorities at risk.
Navalny, 44, is a well-known Russian opposition leader. He is a fierce critic of Russian President Putin.
Navalny is currently in prison in Russia. He started a hunger strike in the jail on March 31. He went on a hunger strike without getting proper treatment. He broke his fast last Friday after 24 days at the request of his doctors. Doctors warned he could die if he did not break his fast. A group of UN human rights experts also expressed deep concern over Navalny’s health last Wednesday.
Navalny was transferred to a prison hospital in the Vladimir region on Monday amid concerns about her health at home and abroad. According to the Russian prison authorities, he is regularly seen by a doctor. He has been given vitamins. He agreed to take it.
Navalny returned home from Germany on January 17, ignoring the Kremlin’s threat. He was arrested at the airport. Navalny was jailed in February in an old money laundering case. He called the sentence politically motivated.
Navalny was assassinated in August last year. At the time, he was returning to Moscow by plane from the Siberian city of Tomsk. He fell ill on the plane on the way. The plane carrying him made an emergency landing at Omsk in Siberia. He was taken to a hospital there. Then he went into a coma. He was later taken to Berlin, Germany. There he slowly recovered.
Based on expert tests, Germany said last September that Navalny had been given the Russian nerve agent “Novichok”. Later, experts from other countries said the same thing. Navalny directly blamed Putin for the poisoning. But Putin has denied the allegations. The Kremlin has not responded to calls for an international inquiry into the incident.
Navalny is of Russian and Ukrainian descent. His father is from Zalissia, a village near the border of Belarus in Ivankiv Raion, Kyiv Oblast, Ukraine. Navalny grew up in Obninsk about 100 kilometres south-west of Moscow, but spent his childhood summers with his grandmother in Ukraine, acquiring proficiency in the Ukrainian language. His parents, Anatoly Navalny and Lyudmila Navalnaya own a basket-weaving factory in the village of Kobyakovo, Vologda Oblast, which they have run since 1994.