Work ban for Navalny's organisations
The movement supporting jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been forced to discontinue its official activities. At the behest of a state prosecutor a court in Moscow ordered Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) to suspend its work, and the state prosecutors ordered Navalny's network of regional offices to do the same. According to a lawsuit the contents of which are largely unknown, the two organisations are to be classified as extremist and banned. Commentators are appalled, and not just in Russia.
Putting Russia's viability at risk
Repression has long-term costs, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung points out:
“There's a danger that the country will lose many of the people it needs most in the coming years through emigration or retreat into private niches. ... Navalny's supporters are among the most dynamic elements of the Russian population. They're younger and better educated than average. Even if the powers that be succeed in taking the political sting out of the imprisoned opposition leader and his supporters - which is by no means certain in the long run - their actions will leave a mark on Russian society. In the name of staying in power, Putin and his followers are undermining Russia's future viability.”
Pent-up anger and underground opposition will result
Radio Kommersant FM believes this move will only get the state into more trouble:
“Navalny and his comrades-in-arms are the only organised opposition outside the system - and they are legal, which is by no means trivial. Their classification as extremists means the de facto liquidation of the opposition and the prospect of their going underground. This is bad for the state because, firstly, it's easier to control politicians and public figures if they are visible. And secondly, it removes the opportunity for young people in particular to blow off steam. When social discontent builds up and can't be vented somehow, it threatens to have worse consequences than all the demonstrations and Navalny's investigations.”