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Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny (file photo)

A court in Russia's Vladimir region has rejected imprisoned opposition politician Aleksei Navalny’s request to annul his designated status as "a terrorist and extremist."

The Petushki district court pronounced its decision on February 1.

Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) officials said at the hearing that Navalny was tagged with the status because "he had committed administrative violations of laws and regulations, founded an organization that was recognized as extremist, and because a criminal case had been launched against him on extremism charges."

The court's ruling came a week after Russian authorities added Navalny and several of his associates, most of whom are currently outside of Russia because they feared for their safety, to the federal registry of terrorists and extremists. Navalny and his supporters, along with some Western governments, have condemned the moves as politically motivated.

Navalny, who participated in the hearing via a video link from Correctional Colony No. 2 reiterated previous statements he had made, saying there was nothing in his activities that could be defined either as "extremist" or "terrorist."

"I am serving a term in this prison and have been designated as a terrorist and extremist because those in power are not only thieves and hypocrites, but also some sort of pathological liars, for whom it is important to accuse everybody around them of some monstrous things and say in absolute terms -- 'That person is a terrorist,'" Navalny said.

Navalny, one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s most-vocal critics, was arrested in January last year upon his return from Germany, where he had spent five months recovering from a nerve-agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin -- accusations that Russian officials reject.

He is serving a 2 1/2-year prison sentence on embezzlement charges that he says were trumped up because of his political activities.

After his arrest, Navalny was labeled a flight risk, which he and his supporters challenged, saying the fact that he returned to Russia from Germany of his own free will while knowing that he likely faced imprisonment showed he had no intention of fleeing.

In October 2021, Navalny's flight risk status was replaced by the status of terrorist and extremist.

Last June, the Moscow City Court declared all organizations linked to Navalny as extremist, preventing people associated with him and his network of regional offices across Russia from seeking public office.

The ruling against his organizations also carries possible lengthy prison terms for activists who have worked with them.

Amnesty International said at the time of the sentencing that Andrei Borovikov was being “punished solely for his activism, not his musical taste.”

A Russian appeals court has canceled the prison sentence of a former coordinator of jailed opposition leader Aleksei Navalny after he was convicted last year for “distributing pornography” by sharing a video by the German rock band Rammstein, in a case Amnesty International described as “utterly absurd.”

Andrei Borovikov's lawyer, Leonid Krikun, told RFE/RL on February 1 that the court sent the case back for retrial and ruled that Borovikov will remain in custody for at least three months while the new trial is held.

Krikun said he would appeal the move to keep his client behind bars during the retrial.

A court in Russia's northwestern city of Arkhangelsk sentenced Borovikov -- a former coordinator of Navalny's Arkhangelsk regional headquarters -- to 2 1/2 years in prison in April 2021 after finding him guilty of distributing a video clip from the Rammstein song Pussy, which was recognized by Russian authorities as pornographic. The prison term was later cut by three months.

Amnesty International said at the time of the sentencing that Borovikov was being “punished solely for his activism, not his musical taste.”

The music video posted by Borovikov in 2014 came to the authorities’ attention in 2020 when a former volunteer at his office informed the police. Amnesty International said it suspected the volunteer was employed as an agent provocateur to help fabricate the case.

Rammstein guitarist Richard Kruspe expressed his support for Borovikov after his sentence was handed down.

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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