Russia bans non-existent ‘anti-Russian separatist movement’ — Novaya Gazeta Europe

Russia bans non-existent ‘anti-Russian separatist movement’

The Russian Supreme Court formally recognised the “anti-Russian separatist movement” as an “extremist organisation” in a ruling on Friday, independent outlet Mediazona reported from court.

The deliberation took place behind closed doors, with journalists only allowed to be present at the announcement of the verdict.

In April the Russian Justice Ministry had requested that the movement, which does not exist, be designated an “extremist organisation”. Lawyers suggested that the designation would give Russian law enforcement agencies licence to persecute anyone who denied that the occupied territories of Ukraine, including Crimea and the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, “belonged to Russia”.

According to the lawsuit, the movement aims to “destroy the multinational unity and territorial integrity” of Russia.

This blanket ban could affect not only those advocating the secession of Russian regions by military means, but also those who “discuss the status of a region in a purely peaceful manner, or even the expansion of its cultural rights”, the SOVA research centre, a nonprofit that focuses on nationalism and xenophobia in Russia, wrote following the verdict.

The case resembles the Russian Supreme Court’s outlawing of the “international LGBT movement”, another vaguely-defined organisation that does not formally exist, in November, which led to a rise in cases prosecuting people for displaying queer symbols.

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