By banning the anti-corruption organization and political network of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, Russia is going further than ever before, says the European Union.
The ban is “the most serious attempt to date” by the Russian government “to suppress independent political opposition and investigations into corruption”. Brussels sees the intention to eliminate Navalni’s supporters before the parliamentary elections in September.
On Wednesday, the Russian judge called Navalny’s FBK Foundation and its network of political offices in the country “extremist”. That also means an immediate ban.
That decision is not only unfounded, according to the EU. The decision also confirms “a negative pattern” of “systematic destruction of human rights and freedoms enshrined in the Russian constitution”. It “will have far-reaching consequences for Russian civil society, the opposition and critical voices”.
Russia must immediately release Navalny, who has been in a penal colony for years, the EU reiterates.