Russia moves to outlaw groups linked to Putin critic Navalny ahead of September elections

A court will decide the matter as soon as Wednesday, which could result in the groups being labeled "extremists."
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny

Russia is expected on Wednesday to outlaw organizations founded by opposition leader Alexei Navalny in an effort to silence critics before September's important parliamentary election.

Prosecutors are requesting the Moscow City Court label the Foundation for Fighting Corruption, founded by Navalny, and his network of other regional offices as extremist organizations, according to the Associated Press

Navalny was arrested in January upon his return to Russia. He had been recovering for several months in Germany after becoming extremely ill due to a nerve agent poisoning, which he blamed on the Russian government. 

Russian has continually denied the accusations and sentenced Navalny to over two years in prison in February for violating terms of a suspended sentence in 2014 for an embezzlement conviction.

The court hearing was done in secret because of the classified material that was discussed. If the court rules Navalny's organizations are "extremists," then people associated with the groups would be barred from running for any public office. The ruling would set back progress by Navalny and his political allies to seek parliamentary seats in the government. 

Head defense attorney for the case, Ivan Pavlov, said they expect a ruling by Wednesday. 

"There is no talk about the equal representation of the parties in the case," Pavlov said.

While a verdict remains to be seen, Navalny's organizations in many regions of Russia have been shut down since April on an injunction that suspended their activities pending the court's ruling.