Russia officially outlaws Navalny’s political network a week before Putin’s meeting with Biden

alexei navalny
Alexei Navalny appears in a video published by his team on January 18, 2021.

  • A Moscow court banned Alexei Navalny’s political network by labeling it as extremist.
  • Navalny’s associates are now barred from running for office and could face prison time.
  • The move sends a chilling message to dissidents ahead of the highly anticipated Biden-Putin summit.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A Moscow court on Wednesday outlawed Alexei Navalny’s political network by dubbing it extremist, in a remarkable escalation of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war on dissent.

The ruling came just a week before a highly anticipated meeting between the Russian leader and President Joe Biden. It sends a clear message to Biden that his criticism of Russia over the treatment of Navalny and other dissidents won’t deter Putin’s campaign to crush his opponents.

As a result of the ruling and extremism designation, Navalny’s associates are barred from seeking public office – Russia has parliamentary elections in September – and could now be prosecuted and face prison time, per the Associated Press.

The ruling also comes less than a week after Putin signed a law barring members of “extremist” groups from running for office, which critics said was a blatant effort to squash legitimate competition and prevent Navalny’s allies from running in the upcoming elections. Putin signed the law on Friday, which was also Navalny’s 45th birthday.

Navalny’s political network, which primarily focused on investigating and exposing corruption, disbanded in late April in anticipation of the ruling. Around that time, Russia’s financial watchdog Rosfinmonitoring blacklisted the network by labeling it extremist, putting it on a list alongside groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda. The lawyer representing the network, Ivan Pavlov, was also arrested in late April.

This is a breaking news story and will continue to be updated.

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