Russian Lawmakers Take Step Toward Ban Of Navalny Supporters From All Elected Posts

File Photo of Alexei Navalny Marching on Street with Others in Background; adapted from image at commons.wikimedia.org with credit to Evgeny Feldman, subject to Creative Commons license; original image at commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:FEV_1795_(cropped1).jpg, with license information at creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en and creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/legalcode

(Article text ©2021 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – March 25, 2021 – article text also appeared at rferl.org/a/russia-duma-bill-navalny-extremist-elections/31272954.html)

Russia’s lower house of parliament has approved the second reading of a bill that would ban supporters and members of “extremist” organizations from being elected to any post.

Under the draft bill passed on May 25, leaders and founders of organizations declared “extremist” or “terrorist” by Russian courts will be banned from running for elective posts for a period of five years.

Other members or employees of such organizations will face a three-year ban.

Russian State Duma Building file photoThe proposed legislation that was first passed in the State Duma on May 18 barred individuals involved in the activities of an organization that has been recognized as “extremist” or “terrorist” from running in elections for the lower house only.

Already in prison on embezzlement charges he says were trumped up, Kremlin foe Aleksei Navalny could soon feel the full-force of Russia’s anti-extremism law. []

The measure appears aimed at neutralizing the foundation of jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny, which Russian authorities are seeking to have declared “extremist” ahead of parliamentary elections in September.

His Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) has already been declared a “foreign agent,” a punitive designation under a separate law.

“Vladimir Putin’s regime aims to fully purge vocal critics from the civic space,” Natalia Zviagina, the Moscow director for Amnesty International, said after lawmakers gave preliminary backing to the draft legislation. “The main target of this latest, particularly brazen, attack is the movement led by Aleksei Navalny.

“Having unjustly imprisoned its archfoe, the Kremlin is now targeting all those who had the nerve to support him,” Zviagina said.

The ruling United Russia party is facing polls showing its support at some of the lowest levels ever.

Navalny is currently serving a prison sentence on embezzlement charges that he says were trumped up because of his political activity.

The 44-year-old has been in custody since January, when he returned to Russia following weeks of medical treatment in Germany for a nerve-agent poisoning in August that he says was carried out by operatives of the Federal Security Service (FSB) at the behest of Putin. The Kremlin has denied any role in the poisoning.

Since his jailing, the Kremlin has stepped up its campaign against Navalny and his associates.