The ruling of a Moscow court declaring “extremists” and ordering the dissolution of organizations linked to the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalni reflects how the level of obsession of Vladimir Putin and his associates with the total domination of the Russian political scene has risen .
The verdict – delivered behind closed doors and with “secret” evidence – affects the foundation for the fight against corruption and the fund for the defense of civic rights, as well as its headquarters throughout the country. The court ruling will allow hundreds of thousands of people to be excluded as candidates from any election. Already on June 4, a law, signed by Putin, entered into force, according to which leaders, organizers and others involved in the activities of an entity declared “extremist” can be vetoed as candidates for a period of three years – the supporters— to five years —the leaders and organizers— for activities even prior to the formal prohibition of the entity. A “like” in solidarity with the Navalni cause on social networks or participation in any of its activities will suffice.
The ritual performed by the judges is the key piece of a complex retroactive repressive construction to veto independent citizens from public management and capable of overcoming the already strict filters devised by the regime over time. It is a screening before the parliamentary elections next September. Curiously, the veto of those “involved” in the Navalni structures extends until June 2024, that is, until after Russia’s presidential elections scheduled for the spring of that year and to which Putin could run again. For the leaders of the declared “extremist” organization, the veto will last until 2026.
With gruesome legal provisions, the Putin regime has erected new walls against potential opponents, redoubling its efforts since last fall. The large protests of August 2020 in Belarus could have contributed to the acceleration of this strategy, leading to the conclusion that it may be more effective to eliminate opposition candidates at an early stage rather than having to falsify electoral results or face opponents after the elections, as happened to Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko. Thus, it is enough to deny the registration of the undesirables under the umbrella of a law against those “involved in extremist organizations.”
The guardians of the Kremlin lay the last bricks in an exclusive and threatening legal construction. Democrats want the bunker they build to become suffocating for those entrenched in it who defend an outdated and criminal monopoly of power.