Russia Suspends Public Activity by Navalny’s Political Groups

“This is just screaming, ‘We fear your activity, we fear your protests, we fear smart voting,’” Ivan Zhdanov, a top aide to Mr. Navalny, wrote on Twitter, referring to a voting strategy in which the opposition coalesces around the single strongest candidate in a given race.

Until now, Mr. Navalny has still been able to get his word out through his various organizations.

Just days ago, he ended a hunger strike in jail after authorities relented amid an international outcry and allowed independent doctors to examine him. His personal doctors had feared that what they called ill treatment in jail and the hunger strike could kill Mr. Navalny unless he received proper medical care.

Though overshadowed by the assassination attempt on Mr. Navalny last year and his imprisonment and recent hunger strike, the legal onslaught against his movement also carries potentially far-reaching implications.

Mr. Putin’s system of governance is sometimes called a “soft authoritarian” approach because it allows open opposition and more internet freedoms than in China. Political parties exist in Russia that are ostensibly in the opposition, but in fact they back Mr. Putin and most of his policies while criticizing officials lower down the pecking order, such as regional governors.

The prosecutors’ request singled out Mr. Navalny’s nongovernmental groups, saying they posed a risk to state security.

“To propagandize their actions, to exchange information and attract new participants, members of the movement use multiple information resources on the internet,” prosecutors wrote in their request. “The sites distributed extremist materials, calls to carry out extremist activities and mass disturbances, and to participation in public activities not sanctioned by empowered government bodies.”

The prosecutor’s request, which was published online by Mr. Navalny’s aides, said the ban could be appealed but would otherwise be in effect until a court ruling in the extremism case. It asked that the nongovernmental groups be prohibited from gaining access to their bank accounts except to pay overhead costs and fines.

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