Anger as Russia brands Vladimir Putin critic Alexei Navalny jail ‘an American spy’ and ban groups founded by the activist
- Russia yesterday claimed imprisoned Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny was a US agent
- Moscow court declared party ‘extremist’ and banned groups founded by activist
- The ‘extremism’ label carries prison sentences for those who have worked with organizations
Russia sparked anger yesterday by claiming imprisoned Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny was an American agent.
A Moscow court declared his political party “extremist” and banned groups founded by the activist, pictured, in the latest attempt to silence opponents of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Moscow court ruling prevents anyone associated with Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation and its regional network from seeking public office.
The “extremism” label also includes long prison terms for those who have worked with the organizations, donated to them, or even simply shared the groups’ material.
Russia claimed imprisoned Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny was an American agent yesterday. He declared his political party “extremist” and banned groups founded by the activist, pictured, in the latest effort to silence opponents of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Amid condemnation over the court ruling by the EU and US Secretary of State Dominic Raab, the Kremlin said Washington was quick to comment because the imprisoned critic was in fact working for them.
Navalny was arrested in January when he returned from Germany, where he spent months recovering from an assassination attempt on nerve gas. He was convicted of violating his parole while in hospital.
The US State Department called the extremist label “particularly disturbing” and said it was part of a pattern of restricting fundamental rights in Russia.
In a radio interview, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the response showed the extent of US interference in Russian affairs.
“Can you imagine seeing such an immediate response from the State Department to a domestic or other internal decision in another country?” she said in the interview broadcast on YouTube and state radio.
‘Then they make a special statement within a few hours. This means they are politically involved in the story,” she said, adding that this is how Washington exposed its “agents.”
Amid condemnation over the court ruling of Foreign Minister Dominic Raab (pictured), the EU and the US, the Kremlin said Washington was quick to comment because the imprisoned critic was in fact working for them
“They show such political zeal because it affects those who guided them, those who supported them politically and in other ways,” Zakharova said.
In February, Navalny was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for violating the terms of a suspended sentence from a 2014 embezzlement conviction that was widely dismissed as politically motivated.
“The ruling by a Moscow court to label Navalny’s organizations as ‘extremist groups’ marks the Russian government’s most serious attempt yet to suppress independent political opposition,” said Josep Borrell, head of foreign policy. from the EU yesterday.
Mr Raab added: “The statement that the anti-corruption foundation FBK is an extremist organization is perverse.
“It’s another Kafka-style attack on those who stand up against corruption and for open societies, and it’s a conscious effort to effectively ban genuine political opposition in Russia.”