Russian prosecutors suspend activities of Navalny group


MOSCOW (AFP) – Russian prosecutors on Monday (April 26) suspended the activities of Alexei Navalny’s regional offices, in a move that his team said would essentially shut down the jailed opposition figure’s movement.

The move comes after Navalny, President Vladimir Putin’s most outspoken critic, ended a hunger strike last week that he had launched to demand proper medical treatment in prison.

A court in Moscow on Monday began proceedings into designating Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) and its regional offices “extremist” after prosecutors requested that they be added to a list run by Russia’s Anti-Terrorism Committee.

“The activities of Navalny’s offices and FBK were immediately suspended,” FBK’s director Ivan Zhdanov wrote on Twitter, attaching screenshots of a prosecutor’s decision.

The Moscow City Court confirmed that the activities of the group’s regional network were suspended, but clarified that prosecutors had the power to make the decision and said a final decision designating the group as extremist was due.

Navalny’s office in Moscow said in a statement that the group will “no longer be able to work” as usual.

“It would be too dangerous for our employees and for our supporters,” it said.

The team promised to continue fighting corruption, the ruling United Russia party and President Vladimir Putin “in a personal capacity”.

“It will not be easy to fight, but we will win absolutely, because there are many of us and we are strong.”

Germany condemned the order, with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert saying that “using the instruments of fighting terror against politically undesirable opinions is in no way compatible with the principles of the rule of law”.

Prosecutors on Friday said they had requested the extremism label for FBK and its regional offices because they are actively “creating conditions for the destabilisation of the social and socio-political situation”, and also accused them of working to alter “the foundations of the constitutional order”.

There are currently 33 organisations on Russia’s extremism list, including the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria group and Al-Qaeda.

The groups are banned from operating in Russia and participating