Apr 25, 2021 - World

Russia could move to ban Alexei Navalny's opposition networks

Alexey Navalny at a rally in 2019.

Alexey Navalny at a rally in 2019. Photo: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Moscow court is expected to ban opposition leader Alexei Navalny's political and anti-corruption networks on Monday, effectively labeling them as extremist organizations, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: Often described as "the man Putin fears most," Navalny has been a thorn in President Vladimir Putin's side for years. If all goes to plan, Monday's ruling at closed-door court hearing will be "he most sweeping attempt to crush the Kremlin's greatest political threat," per the Post.

The big picture: Support for Navalny has galvanized mass anti-government protests many times in the past. Just last Wednesday Russian authorities arrested over 1,700 people who protested in support of Navalny.

Details: The evidence being used by the prosecution remains a mystery, but Navalny's legal team is expected to receive access to the evidence file shortly before the hearing.

  • If the court bans Navalny's networks as extremist organizations they will be put on par with Islamic State, al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
  • Selling paraphernalia from the groups (like magnets) or retweeting their previous videos about corruption among Russia's elite, could all become jailable offenses.

What they're saying: “It reminds me of Soviet trials when someone was declared a spy or foreign agent and then there would be a secret closed trial,” said Ivan Zhdanov, director of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation. “Putin is trying to take Russia back into the Soviet past.”

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