Russian Court Considers Ban on Groups Founded by Opposition Leader Navalny

A Russian court has begun considering a request from prosecutors to ban organizations founded by jailed opposition leader Alexey Navalny. Along with a new law, a ruling to outlaw the organizations would prohibit people linked to the groups from seeking public office, including seats in parliament, before a vital parliamentary election in September.Prosecutors have asked the Moscow City Court to declare Navalny’s Foundation for Fighting Corruption and his group of offices across Russia as extremist organizations.Attorneys in the case said the court is expected to issue a ruling on the case on Wednesday.Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law a bill that barred members of organizations that have been declared extremist groups from running for public office after the measure was quickly approved by lawmakers.FILE – Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny attends a hearing to consider an appeal against an earlier court decision to change his suspended sentence to a real prison term, in Moscow, Russia, Feb. 20, 2021.If the court outlaws Navalny’s organizations, it could spell an end to the massive political network he established to challenge Putin’s grip on power.Navalny, Putin’s fiercest critic, is serving 2 1/2-year prison sentence for parole violations stemming from a 2014 embezzlement conviction he maintained was politically motivated.Navalny was arrested in January in Russia after spending five months in Germany recovering from a nerve agent poisoning he accuses the Kremlin of committing. Russia has denied the allegation.

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