On the designation of civil society associations linked to Aleksei Navalny as extremist

15.06.2021

Statement by Memorial Human Rights Centre

Late on the evening of 9 June Judge Vyacheslav Polyga sitting in Moscow City Court designated three civil society associations linked to political prisoner Aleksei Navalny as extremist — the Anti-Corruption Foundation*, the Citizens’ Rights Protection Foundation and ‘Navalny’s Headquarters.’ 

This decision has no foundation in law even from the point of view of Russian anti-extremist legislation, which is unnecessarily broad, vague and repressive.

There is nothing in the publicly available materials of the case, nor in the actions of these associations themselves, that would indicate they are engaged in ‘extremist’ activities.

The frantic speed at which the judgment was handed down, and the known circumstances of the court hearing, speak to a demonstrative disregard for the basic principles of law.

The court hearing was effectively closed to media and the public without reasonable grounds. 

There was not even a pretence of observing the principle of adversariality in the proceedings: the court ignored all motions of the defence and uncritically agreed with all the prosecutors’ demands. The prosecutors sought to substantiate their claims with nothing more than a rather meaningless collection of documents, inadmissible as evidence and irrelevant to the case in general.

We consider the decision to ban these public associations to be purely political in nature and in violation of the rights and freedoms of Russian citizens. It blatantly contradicts the rights of association and assembly and freedom of expression.

The obvious consequences of this decision will be a new wave of unlawful politically motivated criminal prosecutions and repressive administrative measures.

The calculation is clear: fear of such arbitrary sanctions will paralyze peaceful political opposition and, more broadly, civil society activity and public criticism of the authorities in general.

The decision to designate the Anti-Corruption Foundation, the Citizens’ Rights Protection Foundation and ‘Navalny’s Headquarters’ as extremist is yet another step towards using repressive measures to eliminate all political discussion and political competition.

This decision must, without question, be reversed.

*The Ministry of Justice has recognized the Anti-Corruption Foundation as a foreign agent.

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