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Alexey Navalny files lawsuit against prison for registering him as ‘extremist’

Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny has filed a new lawsuit against the administration of the prison where he is being held. Navalny filed the claim application on November 18th, suing the prison. His aim is to overturn the prison commission’s decision to declare him a “person professing extremist ideology and prone to commit crimes of a terrorist nature and extremist orientation.” This new status puts Navalny under extra preventive supervision.

Extremist status

On October 11th, Navalny said that a prison commission had designated him an extremist and a terrorist, though it did revoke his position of an escape risk. Navalny said on Instagram that he had been summoned before a commission at the prison in Vladimir region, east of Moscow, who voted unanimously in favour of the change of status.

According to critics, the designation marked a further escalation of official pressure against Navalny, widely viewed as the Kremlin’s no. 1 foe. However, in October, Navalny himself reacted lightly to his change in status, saying he was mostly optimistic owing to the “flight risk” status being revoked. The flight risk status posed hourly controls on Navalny, both day and night, disrupting his sleep. Now, however, Navalny has filed a lawsuit to remove his terrorist status.

Allies flee Russia

In recent months, Russian authorities have cracked down on groups affiliated with Navalny. Earlier in the year, a court in Moscow labeled all groups and organizations associated with Navalny as extremist. This escalated after his supporters regrouped around a new network of organizations formed in preparation for the September parliamentary elections. This has caused a number of Navalny’s allies to be arrested or to flee the country.

Most recently, on November 24th, it was revealed that two more people involved with Navalny’s recent political campaign had fled Russia, including Irina Fatyanova. Fatyanova was the former Navalny campaign chief in St. Petersburg, and she declared that her decision to leave Russia had been spurred by the arrest of fellow campaign manager Liliya Chanysheva this month. Other close allies to Navalny, including other campaign managers, lawyers, and activists, have also left Russia due to the constant pressure.

Navalny’s lawsuits

This is the fourth lawsuit Navalny has filed against the administration of Penal Colony No. 2, the prison in Pokrov where he is serving out his sentence. In June, one of the claims was dismissed by the Petushinsky Court. This claim sought to overturn Navalny’s status as “liable to escape”, but as he had already obtained this status in pre-trial detention, the court dismissed the lawsuit. In June, Navalny dropped two other lawsuits. These two were concerned with the “illegal censorship” of the newspapers he was given and the prison administration’s decision to withhold his books. Navalny dropped the claims because he was given the Bible and Quran, and the prison staff stopped cutting articles out of his newspapers. The Petushki district court in the Vladimir region registered this newest lawsuit on November 18th, with a preliminary hearing set for December 9th.


Sources: Meduza, Meduza2, Reuters, Reuters2 

Photo: Flickr