At the end of a closed hearing, the Russian justice designated Wednesday as “extremist” the organizations of Alexeï Navalny. A few months before the legislative elections in September, a Moscow court on Wednesday ordered the liquidation of the organizations of the 45-year-old opponent, in particular his Anti-Corruption Fund (FBK), known for its resounding investigations into the lifestyle and the embezzlement of Russian elites, and its regional offices, which deal with organizing demonstrations and electoral campaigns.
This judgment comes after months of repression targeting the Russian opposition, marked by the sending of Alexey Navalny to a penal colony, the exile of several executives of his movement, but also measures targeting the independent press and others. critical voices. “It was recognized that these organizations not only voluntarily disseminated information inciting hatred and hostility towards the representatives of power, but also committed extremist crimes and offenses”, told reporters a representative of the prosecution, Alexei Jafiarov. , after the announcement of the decision.
“We will not back down”
A message published Wednesday evening on Alexeï Navalny’s Instagram account called on his supporters to continue to support him, and to join his team’s voting instructions for the legislative elections in the fall. “We will manage, we will evolve, we will adapt. But we will not shrink from our goals and our ideas. This is our country and we have no other ”, we still read.
The United States condemned a Russian court decision “particularly disturbing”, while the United Kingdom called it “perverse”. “This decision places employees, volunteers and thousands of supporters across Russia at risk of criminal prosecution and imprisonment for the exercise of basic human rights guaranteed by the Russian Constitution,” said spokesperson for American diplomacy Ned Price, calling once again for the “immediate and unconditional” release of the opponent.
“This is a new Kafkaesque attack on those who stand up against corruption and for open societies, and a deliberate attempt to effectively outlaw the real opposition in Russia,” the official said. British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab.
“No sufficient proof of guilt has been presented”
Started in the morning, Wednesday’s hearing lasted more than 12 hours, according to lawyers for the Komanda 29 team, which notably defended the FBK and announced its intention to appeal the decision. The lawyers denounced in a statement “a trial in camera with certain documents classified” secret “. “At the last hearing, all the defense requests were dismissed and no sufficient evidence of guilt was presented,” they said.
The prosecution welcomed a judgment “legal and justified”. The outcome of this procedure left little doubt, the network of regional offices of Alexeï Navalny having already been classified at the end of April in the list of “extremist” organizations of the financial monitoring service. As a result, the network had proceeded to self-dissolution to avoid prosecution of its members.
Heavy prison sentences
Justice on Wednesday ordered the liquidation of the remaining organizations, including the FBK. The collaborators of formations considered “extremist” risk in Russia of heavy prison sentences and are deprived of participation in the elections since a law promulgated last week by President Vladimir Poutine. For the opposition, this text aims to neutralize the dangerous candidates for power before the legislative elections in September, which promise to be delicate for the Kremlin party, United Russia, which is declining in the polls in a context of economic stagnation.
The repression of the opposition in Russia in recent months has targeted not only the movement of Alexeï Navalny, but also other critics of the Kremlin, such Andreï Pivovarov, arrested for having collaborated with the organization Open Russia (“Open Russia”) of ex-oligarch in exile Mikhail Khodorkovsky, deemed “undesirable”.
Another figure of the protest worried by justice: Dmitri Goudkov, a liberal who planned to run for legislative. After being arrested, then released, he finally decided to flee to Ukraine, where he denounced on Wednesday the “dictatorial” drift of Vladimir Putin, determined to “destroy” the Russian opposition.