Russia Adds Jailed Kremlin Critic, Top Allies, to ‘Terrorist and Extremist’ Registry

The Russian government on Tuesday added the jailed Kremlin critic, Alexei Navalny, along with several of his top allies to an official list of people considered “terrorists or extremists.”

Rosfinmonitoring, the country’s state financial monitoring service, updated its “terrorist” listing on Jan. 25, with Navalny and some members of his team—including top aides Lyubov Sobol and Georgy Alburov—added to the registry.

“Alexei Navalny, Lyubov Sobol, Vyacheslav Gimadi, Georgy Alburov, Ruslan Shaveddinov were included in the list of terrorists and extremists,” Navalny’s team announced on Telegram. Those who are added to the listing are subject to limits on bank transactions and need to seek approval every time they want to use their accounts.

Sobol, one of the faces of Navalny’s popular YouTube channel, told Ekho Moskvy radio that Russian President Vladimir Putin was declaring anyone he didn’t like to be a terrorist.

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Opposition figure Lyubov Sobol walks away from a court building after being handed a one-year community service suspended sentence in Moscow, Russia, on April 15, 2021. (Dimitar DilkoffI/AFP via Getty Images)
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Chief of Staff of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, Leonid Volkov speaks during an interview with AFP, in Vilnius, Lithuania, on March 2, 2021. (Petras Malukas/AFP via Getty Images)

Leonid Volkov, Navalny’s chief of staff who fled Russia to avoid arrest, also commented on the situation in a statement on Facebook, saying he is “proud to work in our fine team of ‘extremists and terrorists.'”

“By devaluing the meaning of words and turning their meaning inside out, the Kremlin is digging a deeper hole for itself. It’s doing all it can to make those who still believe Putin stop believing him,” said Volkov.

Also on Tuesday, local news agencies reported separately that the federal prison service had demanded that Oleg Navalny, the brother of imprisoned Kremlin critic Navalny, be given a jail term in place of a one-year suspended sentence handed to him last year.

Oleg was among several prominent opposition figures to be charged with violating CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus restrictions after he attended large unauthorized protests against government-imposed COVID-19 restrictions in January 2021, calling on supporters to take to the streets.

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Oleg Navalny, the brother of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, stands in front of Omsk Emergency Hospital No. 1 where the opposition leader was admitted after he fell ill in what his spokeswoman said was a suspected poisoning, in Omsk, Russia, on Aug. 21, 2020. (Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP via Getty Images)

Navalny, Putin’s most determined political challenger, was arrested in January 2021 upon his return from Germany, where he had spent five months recovering from a nerve agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin—accusations that Russian officials reject. He was handed a 2 1/2-year prison sentence one month later for violating terms of a suspended sentence stemming from a 2014 embezzlement conviction that he denounced as politically driven.

Putin, 68, has been in power—either as president or prime minister—for more than two decades. He pushed through constitutional changes last year that enable him to run again in 2024 when his current six-year term ends. The changes would allow him to potentially hold onto power until 2036.

Putin earlier this year signed legislation barring members of groups deemed extremist, including allies of Navalny, from running for office. The move, critics say, was designed to stamp out opposition to United Russia. The Kremlin denies the crackdown is political.

Reuters contributed to this report.