Russian prosecutors on Monday ordered the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny and his regional network to suspend all activities, pending a court ruling on whether to qualify it as an extremist group.
A Moscow court on Monday opened a preliminary hearing into the designation of the FBK and its regional offices as “extremists” after prosecutors called for them to be added to a list of “terrorist and extremist” organizations managed by the Russian Counter-Terrorism Committee.
“The activities of the Navalny and FBK offices were immediately suspended,” FBK director Ivan Zhdanov wrote on Twitter on Monday, attaching screenshots of a prosecutor’s decision.
The Moscow City Court confirmed that the activities of the group’s regional network had been suspended, but clarified that prosecutors had the power to make the decision and that a final court decision on the group’s designation as extremist was still due. .
A positive court ruling would give authorities the legal power to impose prison sentences on activists and freeze groups’ bank accounts, essentially forcing them to stop campaigning for the most prominent opposition figure in the country. Russia.
In a statement on its Telegram channel, Navalny’s Moscow office said the group “will no longer be able to work” as usual.
“It would be too dangerous for our employees and for our supporters,” he said.
The team pledged 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 absolutely win, because there are many of us and we are strong,” added the group.
Prosecutors said on Friday that they had applied for the label of extremism for the FBK and its regional offices because they were “committed to creating the conditions for the destabilization of the social and socio-political situation”.
Prosecutors also accused the organizations of creating the conditions to “change the foundations of constitutional order” and called their activities “undesirable”.
Russia’s list of extremist organizations currently includes 33 organizations, including the Islamic State (IS) group, Al Qaeda and Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Groups are prohibited from operating in Russia, and participation in their activities can lead to long prison terms.
Navalny, Russia’s best-known opposition politician, is serving a two-and-a-half-year sentence in a penal colony on old fraud charges he says are politically motivated.
(UKTN with UKTN)