The political network of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has decided to disband. The opposition will not wait for a court decision, which will have to determine if the movement is “extremist” and should be banned.
“It is impossible to continue the work of Navalny’s regional headquarters in a current way,” said prominent opposition member Leonid Volkov, who himself lives abroad. He said employees are at risk of criminal prosecution.
Navalny and his supporters have a network of political offices nationwide. According to Volkov, not all of these will close, but formally they will no longer operate under the banner of the opposition leader. In many cases, they continue as independent organizations with their own leaders.
The judge will hold another hearing in the extremism case against the Navalny network on May 17. That had already been ordered to cease all activities until a decision was made. It is still unclear when exactly this can be expected.
The opposition leader himself is serving a prison sentence for embezzlement that he allegedly committed in 2009. He maintained that the case was politically motivated. Navalny went on a hunger strike in the prison camp to enforce better medical care. According to his lawyer, he still weighs 72 kilos, 22 kilos less than at the beginning of this year.