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Russian investigators launch a new criminal case against Navalny that will likely extend his time in prison

The Russian Investigative Committee opened a new criminal case against jailed opposition politician Alexey Navalny and his associates on charges of creating and participating in an extremist group.

The suspects charged with creating an extremist group (under Criminal Code Article 282.1, section 1) are Navalny himself, as well as his chief of staff Leonid Volkov, and former Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) head Ivan Zhdanov. If convicted, they will face up to ten years in prison.

The charges of participating in an extremist group (Criminal Code Article 282.1, section 2) were brought against several of Navalny’s other associates: namely, Lyubov Sobol, Georgy Alburov, Ruslan Shaveddinov, and Vyacheslav Gimadi. If convicted, they will face up to six years in prison.

According to state investigators, Navalny formed an extremist group by at least 2014, “to carry out extremist activities aimed at changing the constitutional basis of the Russian Federation [and] undermine public security and state integrity.” Allegedly, Volkov and Zhdanov joined Navalny’s group around this time.

The statement from the Investigative Committee also says that eight nonprofit organizations were founded to finance the extremist group and that the websites for the FBK and Navalny’s campaign offices, as well as his team’s YouTube channels and social media accounts, were created to “promote criminal activity on the Internet.”

The Investigative Committee claims that the group’s activities were aimed at discrediting the authorities, destabilizing the situation in the regions, shaping public opinion about the need for a violent change of government, and “organizing and conducting protest actions that escalated into mass riots.”

“With this aim, in the period from 2014 to 2021, the leaders and members of this extremist group systematically held unauthorized public events on the territories of constituent entities of the Russian Federation, during which calls for extremist and terrorist activities were carried out, unlawful actions that constitute a violation of human and civil rights and freedoms were committed, [and] damage to public order and public safety was inflicted.”

Russian Investigative Committee

In June, the Moscow City Court outlawed Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (the FBK), Citizens’ Rights Protection Foundation, and national network of campaign offices as “extremist organizations.” The court also ruled to dissolve the FBK and the Citizens’ Rights Protection Foundation. 

This is the third criminal case that the Russian authorities have launched against Alexey Navalny since he was jailed upon returning to Russia in January 2021. In February, Navalny (along with Volkov and Zhdanov) was charged with creating a nonprofit organization that infringes on the liberties and rights of Russian citizens. In May, another criminal charge was brought against Navalny for allegedly insulting a judge.

Earlier, in December 2020, Russian investigators launched a criminal case against Navalny for large-scale fraud. According to the investigation, Navalny embezzled hundreds of millions of rubles worth of donations from the FBK and other non-profit organizations. 

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Hundreds of thousands of extremists Russia has finally outlawed Alexey Navalny’s political and anti-corruption movement. Here’s how the crackdown affects activists, journalists, and ordinary supporters.

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