Russia liquidates country's oldest opposition party

The Supreme Court of Russia on May 25 ordered the liquidation of the People's Freedom Party (PARNAS) at the request of the country's justice ministry, according to state news agency TASS. The Ministry of Justice contended that the number of the party's regional offices dropped by seven, from 47 to 40, and law requires parties to have representative offices in half of the regions of the Russian Federation. According to the independent Mediazona, whose reporters were in the courtroom, PARNAS leaders responded that the party still had 44 offices, and was only considered out of compliance with the law because the court counted Russian-occupied territories in Ukraine as Russian administrative regions.

PARNAS, a registered party since 2012, was founded by Boris Nemtsov, who was killed in 2015, and former prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov. The party is harshly critical of Putin's regime and aims to "restore democracy and respect for the Russian Constitution." PARNAS is a member of the Alliance of Liberals for Europe, and has joined coalitions with other pro-democratic parties in Russia. Two PARNAS activists, Vladimir Kara-Murza and Ilya Yashin, are in prison for their opposition to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The Russian State Duma made it harder for political parties to be registered in 2007, which led to the liquidation of 16 out of 33 parties.

From Jurist, May 27. Used with permission.

Note: Russia officially has 89 administrative regions (formally "federal subjects" or "federal constituent entities"—oblasts, republics and krais), but six of these (Crimea, Sevastopol, Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson) are illegally annexed Ukrainian territories.

See our last reports on Russian annexation of Ukrainian territory, the assassination of Boris Nemtsov, and the unfolding police state in Russia.

Russia: 100 arrested in Navalny demonstrations

Russian human rights group OVD-Info on June 4 claimed police arrested at least 109 people during demonstrations supporting imprisoned opposition leader, Alexey Navalny. The group stated two journalists are known to be among those detained. The demonstrations in 23 Russian cities was organized by the Anti-Corruption Foundation (AFD) and coincided with Navalny’s birthday.

A spokesperson for Navalny tweeted his gratitude. Navalny is currently serving out a nine-year sentence for parole violations, fraud and contempt of court in a Russian prison. He also faces charges of promoting and calling for terrorism, publicly calling for extremism, financing extremist activities and rehabilitating Nazism.

Russian governmental agencies and official media have not yet commented on Sunday’s demonstrations or arrests. (Jurist)

Canada grants honorary citizenship to Russian dissident

The Canadian parliament voted unanimously June 9 to grant honorary Canadian citizenship to Vladimir Kara-Murza, a Russian political prisoner and Kremlin critic, hoping that this move could increase the chances that he would be released alive. The title has only been granted to foreign nationals seven times before, including champions of human rights and democracy such as South Africa’s Nelson Mandala. (Jurist)

Russia sentences Navalny ally to prison

A Russian court found "Team Navalny" member Vadim Ostanin guilty of "participation in an extremist community" and sentenced him to nine years in prison on July 24. Team Navalny is an activist organization associated with imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny. "Participation in an extremist community" is illegal under Article 282.1, part 2 of the Russian Criminal Code. 

A month before the decision on the Ostanin case, another Navalny associate received seven-and-a-half years of jail time for "creating an extremist organization." At least eight other Navalny associates have been investigated by authorities as well. (Jurist)

Russian left-dissident Boris Kagarlitsky arrested

A Syktyvkar court has arrested sociologist Boris Kagarlitsky on charges that he “justified terrorism” in an online post about the 2022 Crimean Bridge explosion. According to the human rights monitoring project OVD-Info, Kagarlitsky has been sent to a remand prison for two months. (Meduza)

Russia imprisons top cybersecurity executive

The Moscow City Court on July 26 sentenced Ilya Sachkov, a prominent cybersecurity executive, to 14 years on charges of treason, following his conviction under Article 275 of Russia's Criminal Code. Sachkov was arrested in 2021 by the Federal Security Service after he voiced criticism of the Russian government's response to ransomware attacks originating from its territory and subsequently spent two years in pre-trial detention. (Jurist)

UK sanctions judges, prosecutors in Kara-Murza case

The UK Government announced July 31 that it has sanctioned six people involved in Russia’s sentencing of dual British-Russian national Vladimir Kara-Murza after his appeal was rejected. The government sanctioned three judges, two prosecutors and an “expert witness” over what it has called “politically motivated targeting.” Kara-Murza, who is facing 25 years in a penal colony after the rejection of his appeal. (Jurist)

Navalny gets 19 more years on 'extremism' charges

Longtime Russian dissident Alexei Navalny was sentenced to an additional 19 years in prison Aug. 4 on а number of charges related to "extremism," after a closed-door hearing. The sentence prompted condemnation from multiple countries, international organizations and human rights groups. Navalny is currently serving a three-and-a-half-year sentence for violating his probation in a controversial fraud case, and he will have to complete a nine-year term stemming from another fraud case before serving this latest sentence. (Jurist)

Russia: opposition activist transferred to max-security prison

Imprisoned Russian opposition activist Vladimir Kara-Murza was transferred to a maximum security prison in Siberia and placed in a tiny "punishment cell," his lawyer Vadim Prokhorov said in a Sept. 24 Facebook post. According to Prokhorov, Kara-Murza was moved to IK-6, a maximum-security penal colony in Omsk. (Jurist)

Russian dissident Alexei Navalny's lawyers arrested

Three lawyers representing Russian dissident Alexei Navalny were detained Oct. 13 following raids of their residences. The three men are accused of participation in an extremist group allegedly led by Navalny. (Jurist)

Russia: ally of dissident Alexei Navalny jailed for 'extremism'

Ksenia Fadeyeva, an ally of imprisoned opposition figure Alexei Navalny, was jailed Nov. 13 while on trial for extremism in the Russian city of Tomsk. According to Andrei Fateyev, an associate of Fadeyeva’s, she had been on house arrest but the state prosecutor demanded that she be sent into immediate custody. (Jurist)

Russia adds lawyers for Alexei Navalny to 'extremists' list

Russia's Federal Service for Financial Monitoring on Nov. 16 added three lawyers representing jailed opposition politician Alexei Navalny to its list of "terrorists and extremists." Under Russian law, individuals on the list face frozen bank accounts and suspended services. This development comes on the heels of the Oct. 13 arrest of the three lawyers—Vadim Kobzev, Igor Sergunin, and Alexei Lipster—who were working to defend Navalny against extremism charges. (Jurist)

Alexei Navalny missing from prison: report

A spokesperson for Russian dissident Alexei Navalny said on social media Dec. 11 that the activist has been missing within the prison system for six days. Spokesperson Kira Yarmysh said that Navalny's team doesn’t "know where [he] is or what’s happening to him." (Jurist)

UN expert concerned over disappearance of Alexei Navalny

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in Russia issued a statement Dec. 18, expressing grave concerns over the disappearance of dissident and opposition figure Alexei Navalny, who has been missing within the Russian penal system for nearly two weeks. Special Rapporteur Mariana Katzarova labelled Navalny's continued absence as amounting to an "enforced disappearance." (Jurist)

Alexei Navalny located in remote penal colony​

According to a statement Dec. 25 by a spokesperson for prominent Russian dissident Alexei Navalny, he has been located within the Russian prison system, at IK-3 penal colony in Kharp, Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District. The opposition leader had been missing in the Russian prison system for nearly three weeks, ever since he failed to turn up to a video hearing in early December. (Jurist)

Navalny (unsuccessfully) challenges treatment in Russia prison

Alexei Navalny brought a claim against the Russian Ministry of Justice for his treatment in a Siberian prison when he appeared in court via video link Jan. 11.

He appeared from a remote Siberian Penal Colony which he had recently been transferred to. During this transfer, he went "missing" within the penal system for nearly three weeks after he failed to appear for a video hearing in early December.

The hearing was held in a court in the city of Kovrov. Navalny argued for longer meal breaks than the current 10 minutes he is being allowed and more access to religious materials. During the hearing, Navalny claimed that he was experiencing "brutal conditions" in the prison facility.

After the hearing, the judge ruled against him and sided with prison officials. (Jurist)

Vladimir Kara-Murza missing from prison: report

On Jan. 29, the wife of the imprisoned Russian opposition activist Vladimir Kara-Murza announced that Russian authorities removed him from the maximum security prison in Siberia and his current whereabouts are unknown. (Jurist)

Alexei Navalny dead in Arctic prison

US President Joe Biden said Feb. 16 that he was unsurprised yet outraged to learn of the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, adding the US is considering a "whole number of options" in response.

At a press conference called to address Navalny's death in a remote Arctic prison colony, Biden said: "Make no mistake, Putin is responsible for Navalny’s death. Putin is responsible. What happened to Navalny is yet more proof of Putin’s brutality. No one should be fooled. Not in Russia, not at home, not anywhere in the world." (Jurist)

Over 300 detained in Russia at vigils for Navalny

Alexei Navalny's spokesperson Kira Yarmysh said Feb. 17 that the he ad been "murdered," and demanded that his body be "handed over to his family immediately." (Jurist) Over 300 people were detained across Russia at vigils paying tribute to the late opposition leader. (AP)

Russia refuses to surrender Navalny's body to family

Alexei Navalny's spokesperson said Feb. 23 that Navalny's body is being withheld from his family unless his mother agrees to a private, closed-casket funeral. This was further corroborated by Navalny's wife, Yulia Navalnaya, who said in a video shared on social media that Vladimir Putin is behind the orders that Navalny's mother may not hold a public funeral. (Jurist)

Navalny was days away from being freed in prisoner swap: claim

A close ally of Alexei Navalny, Maria Pevchikh, claimed Feb. 26 that the Russian dissident was just days away from being freed in a prisoner exchange at the time of his death. Pevchikh said that an agreement had been reached, offering Navalny and two US citizens in exchange for FSB officer Vadim Krasikov, who is currently in prison in Germany for murder. (Jurist)

Scores arrested across Russia as Navalny is buried

Under a heavy police presence, thousands of people bade farewell March 1 to opposition leader Alexei Navalny at his funeral in Moscow after his still-unexplained death two weeks ago in an Arctic penal colony.

The crowds who thronged to honor Navalny outside a church and cemetery in a snowy southeastern suburb of the capital chanted slogans for him and against Russian President Vladimir Putin and the war in Ukraine, turning the event into one of the largest recent displays of dissent. But police did not act against them.

owever, at least 91 people were detained at events across Russia in Navalny's memory, according to OVD-Info rights monitor.

The funeral followed a battle with authorities over the release of his body. His team said several Moscow churches refused to hold the funeral. (AP)

Attacked with hammer, Navalny ally blames Putin 'henchmen'

Leonid Volkov, top strategist of the late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, accused Vladimir Putin's "henchmen" of being behind a brutal attack that left him hospitalized in Lithuania's capital. Police said an assailant attacked Volkov on March 12 as he arrived by car at his Vilnius home, where he lives in exile. The attacker smashed one of his car's windows, sprayed tear gas into his eyes and hit him with a hammer, police said. (CBC)

Boris Kagarlitsky publishes book —from prison

Russian intellectual and dissident Boris Kagarlitsky has a new book coming out this month with the UK's Pluto Press, titled The Long Retreat: Strategies to Reverse the Decline of the Left—while e languises in prison. He was initially arrested by the Federal Security Service (FSB) in July 2023 on the ludicrous charge of “justifying terrorism” for some offhand jocular remarks he made online nine months earlier about the explosion by Ukrainian forces on the Kerch Bridge in Crimea. "Unfortunately, Leviathan has no sense of humor," Kagarlitsky quipped in an article for Portside following his somewhat unexpected release six months later with a fine, a ban on teaching, and various restrictions on his freedom of expression. Prosecutors quickly responded to the quip. Arguing that Kagarlitsky’s punishment was "unjust due to its excessive leniency," they filed an appeal before a Russian military court in February, falsely claiming that he had failed to cooperate with the court or pay the original fine. On Feb. 13, the kangaroo court found him guilty and sentenced him to five years in a penal colony. (Canadian Dimesion)

Poland arrests three in attack on Navalny ally

Polish authorities arrested three people April 19 in relation to the attack on an ally of the late Russian dissident Alexei Navalny. Leonid Volkov was "brutally attacked" in mid-March outside his home in Lithuania, where he lives in exile. (Jurist)