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Russia Adds Navalny To 'Terrorists' List As Civil-Society Crackdown Continues


Aleksei Navalny gestures while speaking via a video link from prison during a court session on December 28.
Aleksei Navalny gestures while speaking via a video link from prison during a court session on December 28.

Russia has added jailed Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny and several of his allies to its list of "terrorists and extremists" in the latest in a series of moves by the authorities to stamp out opposition to President Vladimir Putin.

The entries for Navalny and 11 associates -- Lyubov Sobol, Vyacheslav Gimadi, Georgy Alburov, Ruslan Shaveddinov, Pavel Zelensky, Lilia Chanysheva, Zakhar Sarapulov, Ksenia Fadeyeva, Yegor Butakov, Vadim Ostanin, and Andrei Fateyev -- appeared in the register of Rosfinmonitoring on January 25, putting them in the same ranks as right-wing nationalist groups and foreign terrorist organizations such as the Taliban and the Islamic State.

Many of those designated have already fled Russia.

The moves come amid an ongoing crackdown on Navalny's now-outlawed political network and civil society more broadly.

EU foreign affairs spokesman Peter Stano described the latest designations as part of "continued repression against critical voices" in Russia, while State Department spokesman Ned Price said they represented "a new low in Russia's continuing crackdown on independent civil society."

Less than two weeks ago, two other close associates of Navalny -- Leonid Volkov and Ivan Zhdanov -- were added to the list, which by law means their bank accounts must be frozen immediately. In addition, people on the list cannot use bank cards, take loans, or accept employment. They are frequently turned away when trying to purchase rail or plane tickets.

Sobol told Current Time that the move was not unexpected and that it "fits into Putin's logic and the general pressure that is currently being exerted against the opposition in Russia."

"Putin is designating everyone whom he doesn't like a 'terrorist or extremist'," she added, noting that there is practically no way to have oneself removed from the list.

Volkov said he was “proud to work in our fine team of 'extremists and terrorists'.”

“By devaluing the meaning of words and turning their meaning inside out, the Kremlin is digging a deeper hole for itself. It's doing all it can to make those who still believe Putin stop believing him," he tweeted.

Zhdanov said: "It's great that our super team of 'terrorists' is being joined by such great people."

Also on January 25, prosecutors appealed to a Moscow court to change a one-year suspended sentence given last August to Navalny's brother, Oleg Navalny, to a real prison term. Oleg Navalny was convicted, along with other Navalny allies, of violating pandemic restrictions by attending rallies in support of his brother.

Over the past year since Navalny returned from Germany, where he was recovering from a poison attack that almost killed him, thousands of protesters have been detained for demonstrating in support of the Kremlin critic, with many jailed.

More than half of his political coordinators have left Russia or been arrested for their activism, with some placed on wanted lists as "terrorists" or "extremists."

Violetta Grudina, the former head of Navalny's office in Murmansk, told RFE/RL on January 25 that she had left Russia for an unspecified country for fear that she would be imprisoned for purportedly violating pandemic restrictions. The same day, photographer Yevgeny Feldman, who worked for Navalny in 2017-18, posted on Facebook that he had also left Russia because of fears for his safety.

Journalists who probed the circumstances of Navalny's poisoning and cited his corruption investigations have been branded "foreign agents."

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

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

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Navalny himself has been in prison since February 2021 after being speedily tried and handed a 2 1/2-year prison sentence for violating the terms of an earlier parole in what was widely regarded a trumped-up, politically motivated case.

Navalny has blamed Putin for his poisoning with a Novichok-style chemical substance.

The Kremlin has denied any role in Navalny's poisoning.