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Russian Lawmakers Move To Ban Navalny Supporters From Running For Office

Supporters of Aleksei Navalny hold up cell phones during a rally in Moscow on April 21.
Supporters of Aleksei Navalny hold up cell phones during a rally in Moscow on April 21.

Russia's lower house of parliament is planning to tighten a bill ahead of its second reading to ban supporters and members of "extremist" organizations from being elected to any post.

The draft law that first passed in the State Duma on May 18 barred individuals involved in the activities of an organization that has been recognized by a court as extremist or terrorist from running in elections for the lower house for up to five years.

The measure appears aimed at neutralizing the foundation of jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny that Russian authorities are seeking to have declared extremist ahead of parliamentary elections in September.

His Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) has already been declared a “foreign agent,” a punitive designation under a separate law.

FBK wrote on Twitter that "the law prohibiting everyone who is against Putin from being elected has yet to be adopted, but it is already being 'improved.'"

In its current form, the bill provides for the restriction to apply retroactively, meaning that it would also target individuals who joined organizations before they were declared as extremist or terrorist.

The second reading of the proposed law is scheduled for May 25, with its authors expecting that it will come into force before the September elections.

“Well, the main secret of our time has been revealed: why [President Vladimir] Putin never pronounced the name 'Navalny!' Because everyone who has said it at least once will not be allowed to participate in the elections,” a close Navalny associate, Leonid Volkov, tweeted.

“Vladimir Putin’s regime aims to fully purge vocal critics from the civic space,” said Natalia Zviagina, the Moscow director for Amnesty International, after lawmakers gave preliminary backing to the draft legislation. “The main target of this latest particularly brazen attack is the movement led by Aleksei Navalny.”

“Having unjustly imprisoned its archfoe, the Kremlin is now targeting all those who had the nerve to support him,” Zviagina said.

The ruling United Russia party is facing polls showing its support at some of the lowest levels ever.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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