Alexei Navalny's political organization was outlawed by a Russian court Wednesday as "extremist," theoretically breaking up his opposition movement. The ruling is part of a broad crackdown by President Vladimir Putin on political opposition in general and on Navalny and his Foundation for Fighting Corruption in particular, NBC reports. It prohibits Navalny allies from running for office for years. The Kremlin's goal, per the Guardian, is to remove Navalny as a factor in Russian politics. He posted a statement online Wednesday denouncing the court's decision. "When corruption is the foundation of the government, fighters against corruption are cast as extremists," the statement said. "We will not abandon our goals and ideas. It's our country and we don’t have another one." Navalny is being held in a prison colony after receiving a 2½-year sentence that could be lengthened, keeping him removed from opposition work.
"Putin has rewritten the constitution for himself, every article in the constitution about civil rights has begun to read like a joke, and yet we're the extremists," said an investigator for one of Navalny's organizations. The decision means that anyone who continues opposition work for Navalny's groups could face long prison sentences. But Navalny's chief of staff said the offices will not be renamed. The ruling takes effect immediately, per the Wall Street Journal, but Navalny's lawyers said they'll appeal. The heavyhanded tactics are new for Putin's government, which had harassed Navalny's movement but not moved against it. A partial court transcript shows a prosecutor saying: "It's gone beyond criticism of the government. You are leading people out on the street in order to change the government by force." President Biden is to meet with Putin on his current overseas trip. (Read more Alexei Navalny stories.)