A court in Moscow has suspended the work of the organisations of an imprisoned Russian dissident, Alexei Navalny, while it considers banning them permanently.
Lawyers and the director of Navalny’s anti-corruption foundation, Ivan Zhdanov, made this known on Monday.
Zhdanov said the court barred the organisations of the leading opposition figure from working until it decides whether they should be classified as extremist.
The prosecution in Moscow had filed a lawsuit requesting that Navalny’s organisations, including his anti-corruption foundation and his network of regional offices, be classified as extremist and, therefore, permanently banned.
The prosecution said the organisations “destabilise the socio-political situation in the country’’ as they call for “extremist activity, mass unrest – also with attempts to implicate minors in illegal activities’’.
The prosecutors alleged that the accused organisations were acting “on behalf of different foreign centres carrying out destructive actions against Russia’’ with the aim of a revolution to topple President Vladimir Putin.
In an interview with news portal znak.com Navalny’s ally, Leonid Volkov, said authorities were freezing the organisations’ bank accounts, sealing off their properties and making their “offline work in Russia overall impossible’’.
He said that perhaps a break was needed to see what the work of the opposition could look like in the future, adding that there was “feverish” work being done to reorganise.
Volkov and other heads of the opposition movement continue to work from abroad and publish popular online videos with revelations about corruption in the Russian power apparatus.
There are also repeated calls to the population to protest and vote for opposition parties during Duma elections in the autumn, promoting “smart voting” to destabilise Putin’s monopoly on power.
“We are the last defence line against Putin,’’ Volkov said, adding that if the extremism case went the wrong way, it could be difficult to uphold Navalny’s network of offices.
Volkov has repeatedly warned that all of Putin’s opponents could be classified as extremists.
However, he viewed it as a positive development that civil doctors were finally allowed to visit Navalny, who is being detained at a prison camp outside Moscow.
He called this “a strange form of public compromise’’ from the Kremlin’s side.
Navalny has also ended a three-week hunger strike after doctors urged him to resume eating, fearing for his life.
He was sentenced to imprisonment at the penal camp in early February for violating parole requirements related to an earlier sentence.
He could not meet the terms of the parole because he was in Germany recovering from a poisoning attack.
Navalny has blamed the poisoning on Putin and said his imprisonment was a personal act of vengeance for surviving the attack.
The Kremlin denies the accusations.