A mural depicting Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny is covered up in St Petersburg, Russia. Source: Alexander Demianchuk/TASS via Reuters.
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  • A Russian court outlaws groups linked to Kremlin opponent Alexei Navalny, banning them from running in future elections
  • The legal case was brought by the office of Moscow’s top prosecutor, who accused Navalny and his allies of trying to establish a revolution
  • Authorities now have the power to jail activists and freeze their bank accounts if they continue their activities
  • Navalny’s lawyers said they would launch an appeal and that the evidence presented by prosecutors was not satisfactory
  • The network says they will instead use a smart or tactical voting strategy to undermine support for the pro-Kremlin ruling party

On Wednesday, a Russian court outlawed groups linked to jailed Kremlin opponent Alexei Navalny, banning them from running in future elections.

The ruling is expected to further strain US-Russia relations ahead of a meeting between President Vladimir Putin and President Joe Biden next week in Geneva.

Washington, which has called for Moscow to free Navalny, condemned the decision as “particularly disturbing”.

The Kremlin says the matter is purely a domestic one and none of Biden’s business, portraying Navalny — in jail for parole violations related to an embezzlement case he says was trumped up — as a US-backed trouble maker.

He had previously mounted a bold challenge against Putin — who has been in power either as president or prime minister since 1999 — via street protests and graft investigations designed to bring about a change of leadership.

The legal case against Navalny’s network was brought by the office of Moscow’s top prosecutor, who accused Navalny and his allies of trying to establish a revolution by destabilising Russia’s socio-political situation.

Authorities now have the power to jail activists and freeze their bank accounts if they continue their activities.

After a 12.5-hour legal hearing, Navalny’s lawyers said they would launch an appeal and that the evidence presented by prosecutors was not satisfactory.

Navalny and his allies have firmly denied the allegations, calling it an attempt to crush their political opposition to the ruling Russia United party ahead of parliamentary elections in September.

A message posted on Navalny’s Instagram account urged his supporters to not be disheartened.

“We’re not going anywhere,” it read.

“We’ll digest this, sort things out, change, and evolve. We’ll adapt. We won’t step back from our aims and ideas. This is our country and we do not have another one.”

Navalny’s allies say they will instead use a smart or tactical voting strategy to undermine support for the pro-Kremlin ruling party, a strategy Kremlin sources have belittled.

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