Jailed Russian opponent Alexei Navalni faces a new criminal investigation for ‘extremism’, a crime punishable by up to 10 years in jail, in a new stage of the repression of their movement after the dismantling of their organizations.
The investigations against him and close collaborators come after the victory in the legislative elections of the party of Vladimir Putin, after a campaign to exclude almost all anti-Kremlin candidates from the polls.
Navalni supporters were unable to come forward after their organizations were banned and classified as “extremists” in June. Since the beginning of the year, Navalni has been imprisoned with a sentence of two years and a half for a fraud case that he considers political.
The opponent and his allies are now accused of having “created and directed an extremist organization” through its Anti-Corruption Fund (FBK) and eight other organizations. He has also been accused since August of calling his followers to commit “illegal acts”, a crime punishable by three years in prison.
According to a statement from the Investigation Committee, in charge of the main investigations in Russia, Navalni and his allies were accused of having “created and directed an extremist organization” that from 2014 to 2021 called for “a change of power by violent means.”
According to investigators, the illegal demonstrations organized by the opponent and his allies involved “calls for extremist and terrorist actions.”
The charges, which carry a 10-year prison sentence, also target two of his close associates, Leonid Vólkov e Ivan Jdanov.
Other collaborators, including the Muscovite Liubov Sóbol, are accused of “participation in an extremist organization”, punished with six years in jail, according to the same source.
Most of Navalni’s allies are abroad, after fleeing the repression in recent months in Russia, in which several of them were arrested or released on probation.
According to Ivan Jdanov, these new accusations are aimed at “prolonging the sentence” currently being served by Navalni, imprisoned since January, upon his return to Russia after a poisoning of which he accuses the Kremlin.
According to Jdanov, in statements to the online television channel Dojd, the authorities want to “scare” the collaborators and supporters of the main critic of the Kremlin.
“Everyone wondered if the repression would decrease after the elections. Well, this is the answer “, commented on Twitter the spokeswoman for Navalni, Kira Yarmych.
Despite being imprisoned, Navalni continues to express himself regularly on social media, especially last week asking his supporters not to surrender despite the “theft” of the results of the September 19 legislative elections.
The 45-year-old anti-corruption activist became known for his investigations into the lifestyle and embezzlement of the Russian elite.
After being disqualified from participating in the elections, the electoral strategy of his supporters in the legislatures was to convince the Russians to “vote smart” by choosing the candidates best placed to defeat those in the Kremlin, often the Communists.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism