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Yulia Navalnaya Arrested in Absentia on 'Extremism' Charges

Yulia Navalnaya. EPP Group / flickr

A Moscow court has arrested exiled opposition figure Yulia Navalnaya, the widow of late Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, in absentia on charges of “participating in an extremist organization.”

Navalnaya announced that she would continue Navalny’s work shortly after his death in an Arctic prison in February.

Russian authorities designated Navalny’s activist network, including the disbanded Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), as “extremist” in 2021, placing employees, volunteers and supporters at risk of criminal prosecution.

“Yulia Borisovna [Navalnaya] has evaded the preliminary investigation authorities and has therefore been placed on the wanted list,” Moscow's Basmanny District Court said on its Telegram channel.

If she returns to Russia, Navalnaya, who currently lives outside Russia, faces up to six years in prison.

In response to the arrest warrant, Navalnaya wrote: “When you write about this, please don't forget to write the main thing: Vladimir Putin is a murderer and a war criminal. He belongs in prison, not in a comfortable cell in The Hague with a television, but in Russia — in the same type of colony and the same 2- by 3-meter cell in which he killed Alexei.”

Navalnaya has long been seen as a devoted wife and mother, supporting Navalny and appearing with the politician at rallies but staying out of politics herself.

Three days after Navalny’s death, she vowed to carry on her husband’s work, saying that she “has no right to give up” after “Vladimir Putin killed my husband Alexei Navalny.”

In March, she helped rally thousands of Russians inside and outside the country to an election-day protest against Putin's re-election.

Navalnaya's spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh called the court's ruling on Tuesday a "quick recognition of merit."

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