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Navalny awards his prize to political prisoners

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(es) Vienna. June 8, 2021

Imprisoned journalist and opposition leader Alexei Navalny has dedicated the Moral Courage awarded by the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy to political prisoners in Russia and Belarus. His 20-year-old daughter Dasha accepted the  prize on his behalf:  DW report (ENG).

Navalny joked in May that he had found happiness in prison. But his political future, like his life, is as precarious as President Putin can make it.

Last Friday – on Navalny’s 45th birthday – Putin signed into law a ban on anyone designated as an “extremist” from running for public offices. The move, announced on a government website, prevents members of “extremist” or “terrorist” organizations from standing in elections for a period of three to five years.
Navalny’s chief of staff, Leonid Volkov, tweeted that he did not believe Putin “accidentally” signed the law on Navalny’s birthday.
The new legislation comes ahead of a court decision on whether to designate both Navalny’s political and anti-corruption organizations as extremists. 

Leaders of designated groups are prevented from running for five years after a court decision to ban the group. It is evident that the main target is Navalny and his movement.

Meanwhile the crackdown on independent media has tightened, using  the “foreign agents” label and destroying their economic base and the rights of both journalists and anyone they interview.

The latest victim, one of the few independent media left in Russia, is the respected online VTimes now “pushed into the niche of opposition political media,” the website’s staff posted.
“But we had envisioned and created a different kind of media. That is why we have decided to close VTimes on 12 June, Russia’s Independence Day.” More on the issue here

VTimes was founded by editors and reporters who left the business paper Vedomosti when its new editor-in-chief signalled he would clamp down on criticising Putin and stop the use of independent polling. The paper had been established, among others, by the FT and its former Moscow correspondent,  AEJ member Tony Robinson. 

The independent and immensely popular Meduza website, based in Latvia, has already been hit by the same potentially ruinous legal manoeuvre. We reported on an interview with the extraordinary founder of Meduza, Galina Timchenko, on May 28.
Tatiana Stanovaya, founder of R.Politik in Paris told CNN the law threatens not only opposition politicians but ordinary Russian citizens. “The law is part of a larger campaign against anti-regime behaviour in Russia…Now even a Russian citizen who participates in protests, retweets an opposition post, or donates to opposition groups, faces the risk of prosecution.”
Last year’s constitutional reform has effectively reset the political clock for Putin, allowing him to seek two more six-year terms when his presidency ends. He has already hinted he is planning to run again.



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