- Russia has added Alexei Navalny and a number of his allies to a "terrorist" list, putting them on par with the likes of the Taliban and ISIS.
- President Vladimir Putin's top critic, Navalny was jailed last January on old fraud charges and his political organisations were outlawed.
- A new "extremism" probe launched against Navalny could see him spend up to 10 more years in jail.
Moscow – Russia on Tuesday added jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny and a number of his allies to a list of "terrorists and extremists", as authorities further clamp down on the opposition.
Navalny and a number of allies, including key aide Lyubov Sobol, appeared on Tuesday in a database of banned individuals compiled by the Federal Service for Financial Monitoring (Rosfinmonitoring).
The past year has seen an unprecedented crackdown on dissent in Russia, including the jailing of President Vladimir Putin's top critic Navalny last January and the outlawing of his political organisations.
Almost all of his top allies including Sobol have since fled the country.
According to Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation – which was declared extremist and shut down last year – a dozen Navalny allies were added to the list on Tuesday.
They include anti-corruption investigator Georgy Alburov, lawyer Vyacheslav Gimadi and several former coordinators of Navalny's regional offices who were also branded extremist last year.
The decision puts them on par with right-wing nationalist groups and foreign terrorist organisations, including the Taliban and the Islamic State (ISIS) extremist group.
Sobol, 34, was a lawyer for Navalny's anti-corruption foundation and producer of the opposition politician's YouTube channel. She has been wanted by Russian police since October.
Lyubov Sobol tweeted:
Earlier this month, two other key Navalny aides – Ivan
Zhdanov and Leonid Volkov – were added to the list.
They mocked the "terrorist" tag on Tuesday.
Volkov, who used to oversee Navalny's regional offices, said on Twitter that he was "proud to work in our team of 'extremists and terrorists'".
'Super team of terrorists'
"It's great that our super team of 'terrorists' is being joined by such great people," Zhdanov, who headed the now-disbanded Anti-Corruption Foundation, said on Twitter.
Last month, investigators questioned several former regional Navalny coordinators, including Ksenia Fadeyeva, who is also a lawmaker in the Siberian city of Tomsk. She was also added to the "terrorists" list on Tuesday.
Navalny was detained in January 2021 on arrival from Germany, where he was recovering from a nerve agent poisoning attack he and the West blame on the Kremlin. In February, he was jailed for more than two years on old fraud charges.
His poisoning and arrest sparked widespread condemnation abroad, as well as sanctions from Western capitals.
The European Parliament last year awarded Navalny the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought after he was nominated, but passed over for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Investigators last year launched a new extremism probe against Navalny that could see the opposition leader spend up to 10 more years in jail.
Ramping up a historic crackdown on critical voices in Russia, authorities have designated dozens of rights groups, media outlets, journalists and anti-Kremlin figures "foreign agents".
In December, courts ordered the shutdown of the country's most prominent rights group, Memorial.
We want to hear your views on the news. Subscribe to News24 to be part of the conversation in the comments section of this article.