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Russian officials move to shut Navalny’s foundation

January 15, 2018

People walk past a pre-election poster depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin in St.Petersburg, Russia, Monday, Jan. 15, 2018. The sign on poster reads: 'Strong president-strong Russia'. On March 18 presidential elections will be held in Russia. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s Justice Ministry said Monday it has filed a lawsuit to shut down a company used by opposition leader Alexei Navalny that is being used to finance his political campaigning.

The Justice Ministry said it has asked a Moscow court to close the Fifth Season of the Year foundation, which rents premises for Navalny’s headquarters and employs campaign workers, over unspecified violations. The court is set to consider it next Monday.

Navalny has unofficially campaigned for the presidency despite an implicit ban on his candidacy due to a fraud conviction seen by many as politically driven. Election officials last month formally barred him from the March 18 vote.

While President Vladimir Putin is set to easily win the vote, his strategists want to make his performance as strong as possible and are worried about voter apathy.

Navalny has urged a boycott of the election, and tweeted Monday that the ministry’s move reflects authorities’ fear of what he dubbed “voters’ strike.”

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