Equating opposition to terrorism ‘breaks Russia’s foundations’, says imprisoned Navalny coordinator

A former aide to jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has slammed Russian authorities’ use of the extremism law to suppress peaceful political opposition as she appeals her pre-trial restrictions in court siberian monday.

Ksenia Fadeyeva, who was elected to the Tomsk city council in 2020, faces up to 12 years in prison for “organizing an extremist group” for her work as Navalny regional coordinator in Tomsk. Russia banned Navalny’s groups as “extremist” in June 2021, and several of its former coordinators have been arrested on retroactive charges.

Speaking during her appeal to the Tomsk Regional Court, Fadeyeva said actions such as the “extremism” designation on Navalny’s organizations threaten the very foundations of the Russian state.

“By listing opponents on ‘extremist and terrorist’ lists and prosecuting peaceful people who have only stood for the rule of law, the authorities are shattering the foundations of the state. When criminals who blow up planes are equated with politicians who oppose corruption, the fight against real terrorism and extremism is simply discredited,” Fadeyeva said, according to a transcript of her speech. published on social networks.

She later called her case “politically motivated”, saying she had carried out “completely legal political activity” as a member of Navalny’s regional network before it was banned.

She told the court that the restrictive measures imposed on her before her trial – including a ban on using the internet except to speak with her lawyers – prevented her from doing her job as an elected official and called for them to be overturned.

“To date, no criminal convictions have been entered against me and I have not been formally stripped of my status as an MP. However… as part of my restraint measure, I cannot meet with voters or resolve their problems; I cannot go to council meetings. They not only punished me, but also my constituents who elected me to the Duma,” she said.

Judge Andrei Sotnikov dismissed Fadeyeva’s appeal.

Navalny had traveled to Tomsk in August 2020 to promote his ‘Smart Voting’ campaign during the election which saw Fadeyva to earn his seat when he fell seriously ill with what Western experts determined was Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent.

He was imprisoned in January 2021 upon his return to Russia after recovering from poisoning abroad.