Russian court hits Alexei Navalny’s network

MOSCOW – A Russian court has declared the opposition network of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny to be extremist, which bans the groups, the Kremlin’s most definitive step yet to eradicate political resistance in the country.

The move comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law earlier this month that prevents anyone belonging to an extremist organization from standing for election, essentially preventing Mr. Navalny’s national movement from challenging the ruling United Russia party. during the legislative elections in September.

The decision raises the stakes ahead of next week’s summit between Mr Putin and President Biden in Geneva, where the US president is expected to raise human rights issues. Mr Putin has previously dismissed Western criticism of Russia’s handling of Mr Navalny’s case and tried to present international support for Mr Navalny as proof that he and his supporters are determined agents of the West. to destabilize Russia.

As Mr. Navalny serves a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence for violating his parole conditions on charges he says are trumped up, political observers see Mr. Putin taking the opportunity to neutralize his movement and strike a blow against the personal legacy of the Kremlin critic.

After the verdict was announced on Wednesday evening in Moscow, Navalny vowed to continue to oppose Mr. Putin.

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