Russian court brands Navalny political organisations 'extremist'

A court in Moscow on June 9 branded the political organizations of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny as "extremist" and barred them from working in Russia, a further blow to the embattled opposition ahead of parliamentary elections.

The ruling could spell the end for Navalny's anti-corruption organization, which had shone a light on graft at the highest levels, and his network of political offices that had bolstered his reach to regular Russians beyond Moscow.

"It was found that these organizations not only disseminated information that incited hatred and enmity against government officials, but also committed extremist actions," a spokesman for the prosecutors, Alexei Zhafyarov, said outside the court.

A statement from the Moscow City Court, distributed to journalists after a marathon, 12-hour long session held behind closed doors, said the judge's decision was binding with immediate effect.

Navalny, 45, who was jailed earlier this year on his return to Russia from Germany, where he had been recovering from a poisoning attack, vowed to continue fighting despite the ruling.

In an Instagram post, he acknowledged that his supporters would need to change how they work and urged them to "adapt".

"But we will not retreat from our goals and ideas. This is our country and we have no other," he said.

Prosecutors in April had requested that Navalny's network of regional offices and his Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) be hit with the "extremist" label, saying the group was plotting an uprising with support from the West.

During June 9's hearing, FBK lawyers said they had asked for the proceedings to be made public, and also that Navalny be called as a witness - requests that among others were summarily dismissed.<...

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