Russia's Justice Ministry is seeking the closure of a foundation that is the bulwark of opposition politician Aleksei Navalny's presidential election campaign.
Lawyer Ivan Zhdanov said on January 15 that the ministry filed a lawsuit with Moscow's Meshchansky District Court seeking to shutter the Fifth Season of the Year Foundation, and court spokeswoman Yulia Bocharova said a hearing will be held on January 22.
Navalny, an anticorruption crusarer and vocal opponent of President Vladimir Putin, has campaigned for the March 18 election for over a year despite warnings -- confirmed by a formal decision in December -- that he would be barred from the ballot due to a criminal conviction he says was fabricated.
Navalny's campaign chief, Leonid Volkov, said in November that the Fifth Season of the Year Foundation is the legal entity that officially employs workers of Navalny’s campaign offices across Russia, receives financial contributions from supporters, and concludes lease agreements and other deals on behalf of Navalny's campaign.
Putin, who has been president or prime minister since 1999, is seeking a new six-year term in the election. Kremlin critics contend that most of the other candidates are window-dressing in an election he is certain to win in Russia's tightly controlled political environment.
Putin's campaign launched a website on January 15.
Its homepage featured a photo of a smiling Putin, the slogan "A strong president - a strong Russia," and a button that viewers can click to volunteer for the campaign.