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25 Jan, 2022 16:56

Navalny added to ‘terrorist & extremist’ list

Eight of the Russian activist's close aides were also handed the designation
Navalny added to ‘terrorist & extremist’ list

Jailed Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny, and a number of his most prominent associates, have been put on an official government list of “terrorists and extremists,” following a court ruling that saw his campaigning organizations banned from operating in the country.

Navalny was added to the register on Tuesday, on the website of Rosfinmonitoring, Russia’s financial monitoring service. Under Russian law, the bank accounts of people and organizations on the list must immediately be frozen, restricting withdrawals to 10,000 rubles ($127) per month.

Among the eight others deemed “terrorists and extremists” were several people who had worked at the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), an organization that Navalny founded in 2011 with the stated goal of investigating and exposing corruption among high-ranking Russian officials. The FBK was declared a “foreign agent” by the Ministry of Justice in 2019, and in June 2021, it was designated an extremist organization and liquidated.

The former FBK workers who have now been labeled extremists include senior Navalny staffer Lyubov Sobol, who left Russia last August after she was sentenced to 18 months parole for organizing rallies that violated Covid-19 policies. Sobol was one of several Navalny associates who fled Russia after being targeted in cases that activists say were politically motivated.

Earlier this month, Leonid Volkov and Ivan Zhdanov, close Navalny allies who also left Russia last year, were added to the same “terrorist and extremist” list. In December, Zhdanov’s father, Yury, was given a suspended prison sentence in a corruption case, and in January, a judge ordered that he be sent to a detention center for violating probation. His son and other Navalny supporters have said that the case was a political operation, and Ivan Zhdanov has accused authorities of seeking revenge on him by prosecuting his father.

Navalny is currently serving a two-year and eight-month term in a labor colony for violating the conditions of a suspended sentence he received in 2014. He was arrested in January 2021, when he returned to Russia from Germany, where he had been brought after falling ill on a flight traveling from Siberia to Moscow.

Doctors in Berlin determined that Navalny had traces of the nerve agent Novichok in his system, and the activist and his supporters say that he was poisoned in a state-sponsored assassination attempt. Authorities in Moscow have denied the accusation, saying requests made to the German hospital for evidence and samples of the poison have gone unanswered.