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Russia: Crackdown on Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation Must Cease
In response to a sweeping crackdown by Russian authorities on Aleksey Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), and related searches, detentions, asset freezes, and intimidation targeting FBK staff, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“The so-called money-laundering investigation against the FBK is nothing more than a repressive and desperate measure by the authorities to silence and intimidate not only FBK staff, but the Russian public more broadly,” said Marc Behrendt, director of Freedom House’s Europe and Eurasia programs. “It is clear that the FBK was targeted due to the success of Navalny’s Smart Voting initiative, which contributed to the ruling United Russia party’s losses in last Sunday’s elections. Denying FBK activists access to financial resources and threatening their families’ well-being are shameless intimidation tactics that send a clear signal that Russian authorities will do anything to maintain their grip on power. Democratic governments and international organizations must demand that the Russian government immediately cease these attacks.”
On September 12, regional offices of Aleksey Navalny’s FBK in 42 cities were searched by Russian law enforcement officials. Moreover, 200 regional coordinators’ homes were searched, and FBK coordinators’ bank accounts were frozen on the pretext of a money-laundering investigation against the FBK that was launched on August 8. The crackdown follows on the heels of the unprecedented success of Smart Voting, a Navalny-championed electronic tool that used data algorithms to help citizens identify and throw their support behind political candidates most likely to defeat those of the ruling party in last Sunday’s elections. Smart Voting was impactful in the Moscow City Duma elections, where the ruling United Russia party won just 25 of 45 seats, down from the 38 it and allied candidates secured in the last election. Coordinators of the Russian elections watchdog Golos in Saratov and Tatarstan have also seen their homes raided and have been taken for questioning, reportedly in connection with “Navalny’s financing case.”
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.