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While opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s health reportedly worsens in prison, Russia is moving to brand his movement an “extremist group,” the first step in outlawing it.
Russia’s general prosecutor said Friday it had filed a request to have Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Fund and its branches declared “extremist.” That legislation is normally used for terrorist groups and violent religious sects, ABC News reported.
Russia’s move comes as Navalny’s doctors say he is getting sicker in prison, where he’s been on a hunger strike for more than two weeks. They also say officials are denying him medical care.
Navalny, 45, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s most powerful foe, was sent to prison camp for 2 1/2 years in February.
If declared “extremist,” Navalny’s organizations would be banned and those participating in them could be sent to prison.
The Anti-Corruption Fund released investigations detailing the allegedly ill-gotten wealth of Putin and other powerful Russians. It also organizes rallies against corruption and calls for Putin to resign.
Navalny came back to Russia in January, after recovering from a near fatal poisoning from a nerve agent last summer.
He said in a message posted to his social media by his management team on Friday that prison officials were threatening to start force-feeding him if he didn’t start eating. Navalny wrote he would refuse and wanted to see his own doctor.
“My head is spinning heavily,” Navalny said, “but I’m still going for now because I feel your support. Thank you!”
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