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Kremlin says tough approach to Navalny allies here to stay By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO – Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny participates in a Moscow rally on February 29, 2020. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov/File Photo


By Anton Zverev, Darya Korsunskaya and Andrew Osborn

MOSCOW (Reuters) – The Kremlin and its loyalists have said they will maintain and in some cases intensify their tough approach to internal and external critics and organisations that they view as a threat to Russia’s stability.

The ruling United Russia won a large parliamentary election against fraud accusations. Authorities neutralized the party’s critics and used legal mechanisms and other means to prevent them from voting. They also targeted what they considered hostile media and nongovernmental organizations.

Alexei Navalny is currently in jail for two and a half years. He was sentenced to about 25 years imprisonment for parole violations that he claims are fraudulent. His allies were also restricted in their movement, had their houses raided, and fled to other countries after the court declared their activities extremist.

In remarks to Reuters the Kremlin indicated that the authorities will continue to be tough against Navalny’s aides despite the fact that the election is over. Senior lawmakers suggested that foreign non-governmental organizations would be subject to a greater clampdown.

“The opposition non-systemic (Navalny’s allies), crossed a redline a while back. Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesperson said that they had used provocations and other methods to incite social unrest.

Naturally, authorities will adopt the toughest position possible. Our goal is stability within society. We are prepared to enforce the law and there is no room for lawlessness. This has nothing to do with Duma (parliament), elections. “This is our line, and it will always be our line,” said he.

Separately Vasily Piskarov, the head of the parliamentary committee that investigates foreign interference is asking for the Prosecutor to prohibit the activities of over 20 foreign non-governmental organisations.

He claims they illegally asked Facebook (NASDAQ;), Twitter(NYSE:), and Google to disregard requests by the authorities to delete illicit content. A demand which Apple (NASDAQ 🙂 also complied with.

Russia analysts think the intention is to provide stability for the 2024 election, in which Vladimir Putin will likely step down as President and choose a successor.

“This is the new standard. According to a Kremlin source, they are not going to purge everyone just before the election and then let them go.

We will combat all activity which is outside of the system. “It’s just like China. But we have our way,” the source stated.

According to another source familiar with Kremlin thought, they will “wiped out all (politically), so get used it.”

Ivan Zhdanov (a Navalny ally operating outside Russia) said that authorities used illegal methods to defeat opponents for years, even the poisoning attempt on Navalny’s life in 2020.

According to the Kremlin, there was no role for Navalny in his health issues and that it was part of an international-backed plan to discredit him.

Putin has held office as prime minister or president since 1999. He hasn’t said whether Putin will be running again in 2024. However, he has stated that he would like any transition of power to go smoothly and free from interference by those he considers Western-backed plotters.

The Liberal Mission Foundation is a group liberal-minded analysts that stated in a report, “If the current level opression is driven by one factor, it’s likely the presidential election.”

According to the foundation, “It (the suppression) will not end until it is over.”

Pavel Grudinin, a Communist strawberry tycoon who came second to Putin in the last presidential election and whose attempt to run in the parliamentary vote was rejected by the electoral commission on what he says were politically-motivated grounds, said the political situation was grim.

Grudinin stated to Reuters that there is a prevailing belief among decision-makers that it is important to project the image of an enemy inside and outside of the country. Then, destroy all activity.