WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States and the United Kingdom have criticized Russia, with a judge earlier in the day denouncing opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s anti-corruption institution as extremist and therefore illegal. A US State Department spokesman described the conviction as an attack on basic rights. “We urge Russia to stop misusing the labels ‘extremism’ to target non-violent organizations,” he said. The United States also called for the release of the opposition leader.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab described the decision as “perverse”. “It is yet another Kafka attack on those who stand against corruption and for open societies, and it is a conscious effort to effectively ban real political opposition in Russia,” he added.
The organization was already expected to be categorized as extremist. FBK was already dissolved recently, in order to prevent the prosecution of employees. The FBK has published regularly on (alleged) corruption at all levels of government. The lawsuit against the foundation was heard behind closed doors.
After the judge’s ruling, Navalny announced on social media that he would not “withdraw” and continue the fight against corruption. The opposition leader is serving a 2.5-year prison sentence for a previous fraud conviction he also said was politically motivated.