The now banned anti-corruption foundation of Russian politician Alexei Navalny says it does not want to stop. “We woke up, laughed with destructive intent and in the knowledge that we are a ‘danger to society’ continue our fight against corruption,” the FBK wrote on Twitter.
The reaction came just hours after a Moscow court labelled Navalny’s foundation and political network “extremist.” That happened after a marathon session behind closed doors. Lawyers had requested a public hearing and wanted to call Navalny as a witness, but those requests were turned down.
Employees of the FBK reacted with a shrug. “I told my wife today that I am now an extremist and can misbehave,” tweeted chief executive Ivan Zhdanov. “I woke up as an extremist. Got to work. Didn’t feel any different,” researcher Georgi Alburov wrote on social media.
Despite the light-hearted reactions, the ruling is seen as another blow to the opposition in the run-up to September’s parliamentary elections. The Russian parliament has passed new legislation that makes it possible to ban supporters of extremist groups from politics. That means that supporters of Navalny will soon be able to stand on the sidelines.
The judge’s ruling sparked international criticism. Yet Russian prosecutors say Navalny’s movement is indeed extremist. It would deserve that designation because, according to the authorities, it destabilizes society, sows hatred against government employees and involves minors in “illegal activities”.
The Navalny foundation investigated corruption and self-enrichment within the Russian elite. The organization published videos about it on YouTube that have often been viewed millions of times. Meanwhile, the activist’s political network tried to get voters to vote ‘smartly’ for the candidates with the best cards to beat politicians from the pro-Kremlin United Russia party.
Navalny, who is in a penal colony herself, responded to the ruling via an announcement on Instagram. He acknowledged that his supporters now have to adjust their working methods. “But we will stick to our goals and ideas. This is our country and our only country.”