Russia’s financial monitoring agency says it added jailed Alexey Navalny’s political network to a list of organisations involved in “terrorism and extremism” as a court considers also adding Kremlin critic’s Anti-Corruption Foundation.

In this file photo taken on February 20, 2021, Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny stands inside a glass cell during a court hearing at the Babushkinsky district court in Moscow.
In this file photo taken on February 20, 2021, Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny stands inside a glass cell during a court hearing at the Babushkinsky district court in Moscow. (AFP)

Russia has added jailed opposition politician Alexey Navalny's political network to its database of terrorist and extremist organisations, banning the group in Russia.

The network appeared on a list maintained by Russia's financial monitoring service after Rosfinmonitoring said on Friday it had updated the list. The network of Navalny's regional offices had disbanded on Thursday in anticipation of the move.

Organisations on the list include Daesh and Al Qaeda.

It was not immediately clear whether the move was related to a request by prosecutors earlier this month to designate President Vladimir Putin's best known domestic critic's regional network and his Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) as extremist organisations.

READ MORE: Navalny appears in court via video link as his political network disbands

Ongoing court case

But the former coordinator of Navalny's offices in Moscow, Oleg Stepanov, indicated on Telegram that the move was connected to the ongoing court case.

"Well of course, why wait? After all, the decision of the 'court' is already known in advance: fighting corruption in Putin's Russia is 'extremism,'" he wrote.

"They don't even try to create the appearance of legality."

The FBK did not appear on the list.

The court hearings in the case are expected to resume on May 17.

On Thursday, Navalny's key aide Leonid Volkov said the regional network was disbanding ahead of the court ruling, citing a threat of lengthy jail terms for supporters and members.

The regional network was founded during Navalny's presidential campaign in 2018, although the opposition figure was barred from running.

It later supported his corruption investigations and his Smart Voting strategy, which directs voters to cast their ballots for candidates best placed to defeat Kremlin-linked opponents.

READ MORE: Jailed Russian opposition leader Navalny to end hunger strike

Navalny, 44, was arrested in January on his return to Russia from Germany, where he spent months recovering from a poisoning attack he blames on Putin.

He is serving a two-and-a-half year sentence in a penal colony outside Moscow for violating parole terms on old fraud charges he says are politically motivated.

READ MORE: Nearly 1,500 reportedly detained as Putin warns West of 'red line'

Navalny's lawyer detained

Russian police on Friday detained prominent rights lawyer Ivan Pavlov, who is representing jailed Kremlin critic Navalny, on criminal charges, his organisation said.

Team 29, of which Pavlov is head, said on its website that the lawyer is facing charges of disclosing information of a preliminary investigation, an offence punishable by up to three months in jail.

It was not immediately clear which case the charges are related to.

"The head of Team 29, Ivan Pavlov, has been detained after a search in Moscow," the organisation wrote.

The Saint-Petersburg based group describes itself as an association of lawyers and journalists fighting for freedom of speech in Russia, where it is known for defending people accused of treason.

The organisation is named after Article 29 of Russia's constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech, and chapter 29 of the country's criminal code, which defines crimes against the state including treason and espionage.

Police raids

Pavlov is defending Navalny's network of regional offices and his FBK after prosecutors moved this month to designate them as extremist, equating them with Daesh and Al Qaeda and banning them in Russia.

He is also handling the case of former journalist Ivan Safronov, who was arrested last July on treason charges and is accused of passing state secrets to Czech intelligence.

His pre-trial detention was extended until July during a court hearing on Friday.

Pavlov's team said that police also conducted searches on Team 29's Saint-Petersburg office and at the home of Pavlov's wife.

His colleague Yevgeny Smirnov said that Pavlov frequently received threats from Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB), who allegedly said "we will do everything to put you behind bars."

In an open letter signed by a dozen Russian lawyers, Pavlov's colleagues said they had "no doubt" the arrest was connected to his work.

"We demand an end to the illegal criminal persecution of lawyers," they said in the letter published on the website of Ekho Moskvy radio.

"Criminal cases against human rights defenders and lawyers is the new reality we are entering," opposition movement Open Russia, funded by exiled former oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, wrote on Telegram.

READ MORE: Kremlin critic Navalny hospitalised after uproar from EU leaders

Source: TRTWorld and agencies