Russian Justice Ministry Calls For Declaring Non-Existent ‘Anti-Russian Separatist Movement’ An ‘Extremist’ Organization

Russian Justice Ministry Calls For Declaring Non-Existent ‘Anti-Russian Separatist Movement’ An ‘Extremist’ Organization

Last fall, Grigory Golosov, a professor at St. Petersburg’s European University, said that Moscow has come up with a new means of going after those it doesn’t like: first declaring that those the Kremlin doesn’t like are part of an international movement and then declaring that movement to be “an extremist group” even if no such organization exists.

It did that with the LGBT community, Golosov says, adding that it is likely to do so with feminism, a move many Kremlin supporters already are calling for and noting that such moves will make it easier for Moscow to prosecute those advancing ideas at odds with Putin and his regime.

The latest victim of such an approach consists of those who promote regionalist and nationalist ideas. They do not form a single organization, but Moscow has decided that they do and thus can be treated in the same way that it has been persecuting the LGBT community in Russia.

Nine days ago, the Russian justice ministry called on the Russian Supreme Court to declare the Anti-Russian Separatist Movement and it structures extremist organization at a hearing on June 7.

In its letter to the Court, the justice ministry said that “the Anti-Russian Separatist Movement is an international movement for the destruction of the multi-national unity and territorial integrity of Russia;” but it did not provide any details about just what this Movement is and what its organizations international or local may be.

The Sova-Center monitoring and analysis group in reporting this development said that the experience of the LGBT movement strongly suggests that the Russian authorities will use this declaration as an “elastic” means of bringing new and additional charges against activists the Kremlin doesn’t like.

Russian prosecutors will no longer have to point to specific actions to bring charges of separatism against anyone. Simply declaring that someone is a member of this “Anti-Russian Separatist Movement” will be enough — even though as the Sova-Center points out no such “movement” exists.

According to the Sova-Center, Moscow is likely to use such a declaration against regionalist as well as nationalist groups and also against people outside of Moscow who are not interested in separatism at all but rather only in creating genuine federalism in the increasingly unitary Russian state.

This has sparked a large number of sharply critical comments by Russian independent news organizations and bloggers.

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