Russia: Navalny’s Associate Jailed for “Extremism”

Russian authorities sentenced Vadim Ostanin, an activist and close associate of incarcerated Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, to nine years in prison for being a member of an "extremist organization," the Navalny Team announced on Monday.

Vadim OstaninVadim Ostanin, former close associate of incarcerated Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, was sent to nine years in jail for "extremism". (Photo: Navalny Team/Twitter, License)Ostanin, 46, was tried for legitimate political work, the Navalny Team said, explaining that "he led Navalny’s headquarters, first in Biysk and then in Barnaul [Altai region, southern Siberia], spoke out against local corrupt officials, and assisted Altai region residents in pushing officials to work."

Ostanin was detained in December 2021, along with five other regional coordinators of the Navalny Team, as part of a large sweep against Navalny's followers, after his arrest in January of that year.

Soon after Navalny's detention, the Russian Federation's Investigative Committee launched an investigation into the opposition's alleged extremist activity, and Navalny and his comrades were accused in a criminal case in September 2021, prompting many activists to flee Russia.

The Committee determined that "no later than 2014, Navalny, as the founder of the Anti-Corruption Foundation NGO – declared as extremist and liquidated on Russian Federation territory – created and led an extremist community in order to carry out extremist activities aimed at changing the foundations of the Russian Federation's constitutional order, undermining public security, and state integrity."

Russia’s persecution of Navalny’s supporters has escalated since the Ukraine war, with concurrent measures to suppress Navalny himself.

In the same manner, Russian state prosecutors sought a court on Friday to sentence Navalny to another 20 years in a penitentiary colony on criminal accusations, including "extremism."

On the same day, the Kremlin’s most outspoken critic was placed in a solitary confinement for 13 days pending a court ruling, according to his lawyer Vadim Kobzev.

“Alexei Navalny was again placed in a solitary confinement cell for introducing himself incorrectly,” Kobzev tweeted.

Navalny, who has been imprisoned for nearly 920 days, has been on trial behind closed doors in the IK-6 penal colony in Melekhovo for the last month.

He is already serving 11.5-year sentences for fraud and other alleged misdeeds, but fresh accusations are being brought against him on a regular basis in order to, as he puts it, silence him.

Just a day before Navalny was sent again to solitary confinement, the Council of the European Union imposed restrictive measures against 18 individuals and five entities under the EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime – the EU version of the so-called Magnitsky Act – "because of their responsibility for serious human rights violations and abuses in Afghanistan, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, Ukraine, and Russia."

The most recent sanctions list includes twelve individuals and five businesses accountable for serious human rights breaches in Russia, the European Council said in a statement.

"The measures target those who have misused facial recognition technology for massive arbitrary arrests in Russia as well as the politically motivated rulings against the opposition politicians, democracy activists, and outspoken Kremlin critics Alexei Navalny and Vladimir Kara-Murza," read the statement.

The EU sanctioned a number of entities associated with the City of Moscow, including a minister in the city's government and a deputy mayor, as well as enterprises creating or organizing tenders for the acquirement of face recognition equipment.

The listings target individuals "responsible for running the penal colony where Alexei Navalny has been held since his politically motivated sentencing in March 2022 and an officer of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB) personally involved in an attempt to assassinate Vladimir Kara-Murza through the use of a neurotoxin," according to the European Council.

The EU recalls that its restrictive measures under the Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime currently apply to 61 people and 20 businesses, and that those named are subject to an asset freeze, and EU residents and corporations are prohibited from making funds accessible to them.

Those sanctioned are also subject to a travel restriction, which stops them from entering or transiting EU territory.