One would have thought that the Putin regime had already stifled most of Russia’s independent civil society. The main media, as well as parliament and the courts, have always been under the control of the Kremlin.
To move from authoritarian rule to complete dictatorship, the remaining independent individuals and institutions must still be repelled and discouraged.
Everything that can be linked to Navalny and his followers is the biggest source of the Kremlin’s discontent. Not least, Navalny’s revelations about corruption among Russian politicians and senior officials. Perhaps what burned the most was when, in January, his employees published a questionnaire on one of them Luxurious mansion on the Black Sea allegedly owned by Putin. Just a week later, the video was watched by more than 85 million viewers.
Navalny narrowly escaped an assassination attempt in August 2020, in which he accused Putin of being behind it. After receiving care in Berlin He was arrested upon his return to Moscow and imprisoned in a penal colony.
But that was not enough to overcome the opposition led by Navalny. Nothing his movement represents should be allowed to exist on the Russian political scene. Therefore, the court declared FBK, the independent anti-corruption organization founded by Navalny, an extremist organization.
The ban on FBK and other Navalny-led organizations is effective immediately. This means that no information may be published with these groups as senders, the media may not publish information about them, no financial transactions may be conducted, and that those who work or are in any way associated with a Navalny group may not participate in the elections.
No one doubts that the court’s decision is an act commissioned by the Kremlin. The Putin-backed United Russia party has steadily lost popularity, and it is important to prevent any opposition candidates from entering the Russian State Duma at any cost.
The ruling is intended to be implementation of a law signed by Putin a week ago, which bans “extremists” from participating in elections for the next three years. These include the following categories:
● Supporters of Navalny’s activities – these may be people who have only once participated in a work or demonstration – are prohibited from participating in the elections.
● People who have spoken favorably about something in Navalny’s activities, such as urging a “smart vote” for candidates critical of the regime in previous election campaigns.
● Persons who support the activities of Navalny or his followers.
It would also be illegal to organize demonstrations where there are some symbols that could be linked to the Navalny movement. Anyone who participates in such a demonstration is threatened with a fine or with detention for up to 15 days.
Worse penalties, up to eight years in prison and a fine of 700,000 rubles, threaten those who finance organizations that have been designated extremist.
Anyone who continues to be active in one of Navalny’s “extremist groups” can be sentenced to six years in prison.
For Navalny himself and his main comrades, the ban on participation in the elections will extend to the next six years. They are also not allowed to establish any new organizations until 2031. If they break this ban, they are threatened with ten years in prison.
On Navalij’s Instagram account, Thursday’s comment can be read: “When corruption is the sole basis of state power, it is those who fight extremists who fight.”