A Russian court on Wednesday called groups linked to jailed opposition leader Alexey Navanly’s anti-Kremlin movement “extremist”, barring allies from running in the country’s next election and leaving supporters vulnerable to prosecution and a possible prison sentence.
There is no doubt that the move has received the approval of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and it is not particularly surprising that the government is cracking down on what is widely seen as the greatest, if not the only political threat. But the timing of the decision is probably not a coincidence, Reuters and The New York Times report. Putin is due to meet President Biden in Switzerland next week, and ReutersRussia bureau chief Andrew Osborn surmises the ban is also a cheeky message to the US ahead of the date – likely something like ‘reject our policy’, written. Speak Time, he signals to Biden that “Russian internal affairs are not up for discussion.”