In a marathon session of more than 12 hours, without light or stenographers, with the opacity conferred by closed-door trials, the Moscow Municipal Court decided this afternoon that the Fund to Fight Corruption (FBK) created by the opposition leader Alexéi Navalni, currently in prison, the regional headquarters that support the dissident leader’s political action and the Movement for the Defense of Citizens’ Rights are “extremist” organizations and, therefore, illegal and prohibited in Russia. They are thus equated with the consideration that Daesh or Al Qaida have in the Slavic country, which means that any attempt to keep them alive in hiding will be persecuted and punished with harsh prison sentences.
The demand to achieve the outlawing and stigmatization of Navalni and his movement was presented on April 16 by the Moscow Prosecutor’s Office, estimating that “under these structures there are groups that intend to destabilize the social and socio-political situation of the country, including organizations internationals that are already recognized as undesirable in Russia.
It maintains that for this they use “unauthorized mass protests” and try to involve minors in such acts with the aim of carrying out a “revolution”. Previously, all activity of Navalni’s organizations had been judicially suspended, which led the FBK to withdraw all its publications on social networks.
That this organization is declared “extremist” will prevent it from running for any election in Russia. A clear maneuver to veto them in the September legislative elections.
- In jail.
The judicial decision ends the political hopes of Navalni, in prison and with his seriously damaged health.
The defense attorneys appeared in the courtroom this Wednesday morning with a whole suitcase of pleas that were all rejected by Judge Viacheslav Poliga. Prosecutors arrived surrounded by bodyguards, in the presence of an unnecessary police device as there were no protesters, and the fifty journalists who attended had to stay in the street.
The trial, as announced in advance, was held behind closed doors because the summary was considered “secret” as, according to the Prosecutor, agents of the secret services were personally involved. Vladimir Voronin, one of the lawyers, told the press taking advantage of the recess that “I do not understand what materials are classified and why.” Ivan Zhdanov, a close associate of Navalni, said last month from exile that the case was classified as secret “so that no one could see that what is happening is absurd.”
The judge also rejected the proposal that Navalni himself appear at the session as a witness. Nor did he want to listen, as the defense proposed, to the political scientist Ekaterina Shulman. According to Ilya Novikov, other of the lawyers, he believes that all this indicates that “the evidence base of the Prosecutor’s Office is limping.” The trial held this Wednesday suffered a first postponement in mid-May.
It so happens that one of the direct consequences of Navalni, his surroundings and his organizations being recognized as “extremists” is that they will not be able to present candidates for the elections held in Russia at any level. This new law was promulgated last Friday by President Vladimir Putin after it was approved in both Houses of Parliament.
Therefore, there is a clear will to completely annul the most combative opposition before the crucial legislative elections that will take place in September. The economic situation in the country and the corruption scandals threaten the chances of United Russia, the Kremlin party, facing the elections, despite the fact that Putin maintains a significant level of support.
Founded in 2011, the FBK has suffered severe fines and its bank accounts were frozen for not declaring that they are a “foreign agent”, a status that the Administration arbitrarily applies to organizations that it considers to be financed from outside the country and carry out political activity .
Thanks to the investigations carried out by the FBK, Navalni has unmasked corruption and irregularities committed by various high-ranking Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin, but also by powerful tycoons and businessmen.
The objective of the revealing and stark videos disseminated by Navalni through its YouTube channel, have been characters such as the former prime minister, Dmitri Medvedev, the president of the Duma (Lower House) Viacheslav Volodin, the former attorney general, Yuri Chaika , many ministers, regional governors and the head of the National Guard (Rosgvardia), General Vladimir Zólotov. Also prominent businessmen such as Alisher Usmanov, Igor Sechin, director of Rosneft, and Evgueni Prigozhin, known as “Putin’s cook.”
Another revelation of the FBK that caused a great scandal related to the sumptuousness of the immense palace, whose property they attribute to Putin, which stands on a cliff in the vicinity of the spa town of Guelendzhik, on the Black Sea. The report on the “Putin Palace” was launched by Navalni on January 19 through YouTube and exceeded 115 million visits.
The Russian dissident is currently serving a two-year, five-month prison sentence for a 2014 fraud case that he considers “rigged” and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) “politically motivated.” His health suffers after the poisoning suffered last year, especially after having been on a hunger strike for three weeks, from March 31 to April 23, to protest the refusal of the prison authorities to visit his own doctors .