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Moscow court orders arrest of Alexei Navalny’s widow in absentia: NPR

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Yulia Navalnaya, widow of late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, attends the 53rd St. Gallen Symposium, in St. Gallen, Switzerland, on May 3, 2024.

Gian Erenzeller/Keystone via The Associated Press


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Gian Erenzeller/Keystone via The Associated Press

A court in Russia ordered the arrest of the widow of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny during a hearing held in absentia on Tuesday as part of the Kremlin’s sweeping crackdown on dissent.

Yulia Navalnaya, who lives abroad, would face arrest if she returned to Russia.

Moscow’s Basmanny District Court has ordered Navalnaya’s arrest on charges of belonging to an extremist group.

Navalny, a bitter foe of Russian President Vladimir Putin, died in February in an Arctic penal colony while serving a 19-year sentence for extremism that he denounced as politically motivated. Authorities said he fell ill after taking a walk but gave no further details about Navalny’s death.

Navalny was jailed after returning to Moscow in January 2021 from Germany, where he was recovering from a 2020 nerve agent poisoning that he blamed on the Kremlin.

Navalnaya has accused Putin of killing her husband and vowed to continue his activities. Russian officials have strongly denied any involvement in Navalny’s poisoning and death.

Navalnaya mocked the court’s decision on the social media platform X, saying that Putin should be put on trial. Her spokeswoman, Kira Yarmysh, called the court’s ruling a recognition of her “merits.”

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German Chancellor Olaf Scholz noted on Channel X that Navalnaya was carrying on her husband’s legacy and denounced the Moscow court ruling as “an arrest warrant against the desire for freedom and democracy.”

Russian authorities have not specified the charges against Navalnaya. They appear to relate to the authorities’ designation of Navalnaya’s anti-corruption foundation as an extremist organization. A 2021 court ruling banning Navalnaya’s group forced his associates and team members to leave Russia.

A number of journalists have been jailed on similar charges in recent months in connection with their coverage of Navalny’s events.

The Kremlin’s crackdown on opposition activists, independent journalists and ordinary Russians critical of it has escalated since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

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