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Tags: vladimir putin | russia | law | opposition | navalny

Putin Signs Law Aimed at Crushing Russian Opposition

vladimir putin sits behind desk
Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a meeting with large families from Russia's regions, via a video link at the Bocharov Ruchei state residence in Sochi on June 1, 2021. (SERGEI ILYIN/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images)

By    |   Friday, 04 June 2021 12:45 PM EDT

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a new law Friday that critics say is aimed at squashing political opposition.

The new law prevents members of "extremist" or "terrorist" organizations from standing in elections for three to five years, with the length of time depending on the person's position, CNN reported.

The legislation was signed and posted on a government website Friday, the birthday of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

Navalny was imprisoned earlier this year for allegedly violating the probation terms of a 2014 case in which he received a suspended sentence of 3 ½ years.

On Friday, Navalny's chief of staff Leonid Volkov tweeted he didn't believe Putin "accidentally" signed the law on that particular day.

Founders and leaders of designated groups will not be able to run for elected office for five years after a court decides to ban the group, the new law says. Employees or financial supporters of court-ruled extremist and terrorist organizations will be banned from running for office for three years.

A Russian court, presiding over a case involving a lawsuit filed in April by the Moscow Prosecutor's Office, will decide whether Navalny's political and anti-corruption organizations will be designated as extremist groups.

If prosecutors’ requests are granted, Navalny's team could face serious consequences. CNN said the opposition leader’s supporters already have been subject to police raids and arrests.

The new law means Navalny’s supporters possibly could be barred from running in Russia's upcoming parliamentary elections in September.

Russia already has sweeping anti-extremism laws, which critics say effectively limit freedom of speech and rights to public assembly.

The new law threatens opposition politicians and ordinary Russian citizens, according to Tatiana Stanovaya, political analyst of Carnegie Moscow and founder of R.Politik.

"The law is part of a larger campaign against anti-regime behavior in Russia," Stanovaya told CNN. "The battlefield has become much larger, now even a Russian citizen who participates in protests, retweets an opposition post, or donates to opposition groups, face the risk of prosecution."

Navalny’s conviction prevented him from running in Russia's last presidential election in 2018. The country’s next presidential election is scheduled for 2024.

Constitutional reform in Russia last year allows Putin, 68, to run again. Before that, Putin would have been required to step down after his fourth and current term. Now, he can seek two more six-year terms.

Navalny was arrested in January upon his return from Germany, where he had spent five months recovering from a nerve-agent poisoning he has blamed on the Kremlin. He was given a 2 1/2-year prison sentence for violating terms of a suspended sentence stemming from a 2014 embezzlement conviction that he denounced as politically driven.

Russian authorities have ramped up their pressure on dissent ahead of the September elections.

Andrei Pivovarov, the head of the Open Russia movement that dissolved itself last week, was pulled off a plane at St. Petersburg's airport late Monday and was to be taken to Krasnodar in southern Russia Tuesday as part of a criminal probe against him.

Also on Tuesday, police raided a country home of opposition politician Dmitry Gudkov, a former lawmaker who has aspired to run for parliament.

Gudkov was released from custody after being held by Russian authorities for two days.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a new law Friday that critics say is aimed at squashing political opposition. The new law prevents members of "extremist" or "terrorist" organizations from standing in elections...
vladimir putin, russia, law, opposition, navalny
Friday, 04 June 2021 12:45 PM
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