World

Russian court orders shutdown of opposition figure Navalny's foundation

A Moscow district court has ordered the closure of the foundation crucial to the election campaign of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Alexei Navalny, barred from running in March election, has previously been jailed

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is shown on Dec. 27, 2017. He has been barred from running against Vladimir Putin and now a court has shut down his foundation. (Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters)

A Moscow district court has ordered the closure of the foundation crucial to the election campaign of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Navalny, President Vladimir Putin's most formidable foe, had been leading a grass-roots campaign for a year ahead of the 2018 presidential vote, before election officials in December formally barred him from running.  He has campaigned for the presidency for months despite an implicit ban on his candidacy due to a fraud conviction seen by many as politically driven.

Since the top court ruling, Navalny vowed to mount a boycott campaign to lower the voter turnout on the March 18 vote, which would be an embarrassment for the Kremlin.

The Moscow court ruled on Monday that the foundation Navalny and his allies have used to rent premises and pay salaries at campaign headquarters should be shut down. The lawsuit was filed by prosecutors who said they found numerous violations at the foundation.

Navalny's campaign chief Leonid Volkov on Twitter described the ruling as absurd and vowed to appeal.