Navalny, associates charged with extremist network establishment, participation - Russian Investigative Committee
MOSCOW. Sept 28 (Interfax) - The Russian Investigative Committee has opened a criminal case against opposition activist Alexei Navalny, who is serving time in a penitentiary in Russia, and his close associates on counts of establishing and participating in the activity of an extremist network.
"The Main Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee has opened a criminal case under Part 1 Article 282.1 of the Russian Criminal Code (the establishment and leadership of an extremist network) in regard to A. Navalny, L. Volkov, I. Zhdanov, and some other persons, and under Part 2 Article 282.1 of the Russian Criminal Code (participation in the activity of an extremist network) in regard to L. Sobol, G. Alburov, R.Shaveddinov, V.Gimadi, P. Zelensky, R. Mulyukov, and other persons," the Russian Investigative Committee press service said in a statement seen by Interfax on Tuesday.
"The illegal activity of the extremist network aimed to discredit the Russian authorities and their policy, to destabilize the situation in regions, to evoke protest sentiment in society, to form a public opinion of the need for a violent change of government, and to organize and carry out protests that developed into mass unrest," the statement said.
"Seeking to achieve that purpose, the extremist network heads and members systematically held unsanctioned public events in Russian constituent territories from 2014 through 2021, where calls for extremist and terrorist activity were made, illegal actions entailing violations of human and civil rights and freedoms were taken, and damage was done to public peace and security," the statement said.
"It was established that, no later than in 2014, Navalny, the founder of the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK, branded as an extremist organization and a foreign agent NGO and banned in Russia), established and took charge of an extremist network with the purpose of conducting extremist activity aimed to change the foundations of Russia's constitutional system and to undermine public security and state integrity of the Russian Federation," it said.
Leonid Volkov and Ivan Zhdanov joined the criminal activity of Navalny in the aforesaid period, the statement said.
"Seeking to provide the activity of the extremist network, including its financing, and to create conditions for the commitment of extremist crimes and the recruitment of new members, the organizers founded eight non-profit organizations - funds and commercial entities that operated as the network's divisions," it said.
"In order to scale up criminal activities, the Navalny Headquarters civil movement (designated extremist in Russia) was established in 2017 to conduct the network's operations in 37 regions of Russia," the statement said.
"Volkov, who represented the 'Federal Headquarters' in Moscow, was the chief curator and head of the Navalny Headquarters (designated extremist in Russia). Between 2014 and 2021, the network was joined by Sobol, Alburov, Shaveddinov, Gimadi and other persons, as well as heads and employees of the staffs in regions," it said.
For the purpose of propaganda of the illicit activity, the network established the website of the Anti-Corruption Foundation, the website of the Navalny Headquarters civil movement, the network's channel Alexei Navalny on YouTube, and used Twitter , Instagram, Facebook and other social media, the statement said.
The Russian Investigative Committee noted that earlier this year, the Moscow City Court banned the FBK and the Citizens' Rights Protection Foundation (also designated as foreign agent) and banned the activity of the Navalny Headquarters civil movement upon their designation as extremist organizations.
"Heads and members of the extremist network committed extremist crimes, including the establishment by Navalny and management together with Volkov and Zhdanov of a foreign-agent non-profit organization, the FBK, and calls on citizens for illegal actions, i.e., the participation in unsanctioned demonstrations on January 23 and 31 and on April 21, 2021 (Part 2, Article 239 of the Russian Criminal Code)," the statement said.
The investigators also charged Volkov and Zhdanov with publishing a video online in August 2021 (after a court banned the activity of the FBK), which urged the general public to fund the Navalny Team by transferring money and cryptocurrency (Part 1 Article 282.3 of the Russian Criminal Code), as well as Volkov and some unknown followers of Navalny with online calls for minors' participation in unsanctioned demonstrations on January 23, 2021 (Part 2 Article 151.2 of the Russian Criminal Code).
"Mulyukov, a member of the Navalny Headquarters in Ufa, urged citizens on June 12, 2017 to change the foundations of Russia's constitutional system through violence by starting a revolution in Russia (Part 1 Article 280 of the Russian Criminal Code), while Zelensky, a member of the federal Navalny Headquarters in Moscow published materials on the Internet in October 2020 to call for violent struggle against the authorities (Part 1 Article 280 of the Russian Criminal Code)," the statement said.
Navalny has been serving time in connection with the Yves Rocher case in Penitentiary No. 2 near Pokrov in the Vladimir region since the middle of March.
Part 1 Article 282.1 of the Russian Criminal Code envisages a top penalty of ten years in prison, while a top penalty under Part 2 of the Article is six years of imprisonment.