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Russia Restricts Navalny Anti-Corruption Group’s Work Ahead of ‘Extremist’ Ruling

The Moscow City Court will this week decide whether to designate FBK and Navalny’s regional offices as “extremist” organizations. Pavel Golovkin / AP / TASS

A Moscow court has restricted the work of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) ahead of its ruling to blacklist the group, the state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported Tuesday. 

The Moscow City Court will this week decide whether to designate FBK and Navalny’s regional offices as “extremist” organizations, a move that would bar the opposition groups from operating and put its members and supporters at risk of prison time. The court similarly suspended the work of Navalny’s regional offices on Monday. 

“The suspension of activities is an interim measure within the framework of a claim for the recognition of the above organizations as ‘extremist’,” RIA Novosti quoted the court ruling as saying. 

The measure temporarily prohibits FBK from interacting with the media, organizing public events, using banks and participating in elections, FBK’s legal defense told RIA Novosti. 

Founded by Navalny in 2011, FBK has carried out high-profile investigations into alleged corruption among Russia’s ruling elite. In January, Navalny and FBK published a video investigation into President Vladimir Putin’s alleged $1.3 billion palace that racked up over 100 million views on YouTube and fueled mass nationwide protests.

Russia’s Justice Ministry added FBK to its registry of “foreign agents” in 2019, a designation that imposed rigorous auditing and reporting requirements on the group.

Allies of Navalny, who was sentenced to 2.5 years in jail in February upon returning from a near-fatal poisoning abroad, have come under increasing pressure by the authorities in recent months.

Several top Navalny associates were placed under house arrest in the wake of the January protests, and a handful of others moved abroad to continue their work unrestricted.

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