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Russian Navalny launches international anti-corruption fund

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Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is seen on a screen via video link from the IK-2 corrective penal colony in Pokrov before a court hearing to consider an appeal against his prison sentence, in Moscow, Russia, May 17, 2022. REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina

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MOSCOW, July 11 (Reuters) – Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny launched an international anti-corruption organization on Monday, a year after his Russian Anti-Corruption Foundation (ACF) was declared extremist.

Navalny’s Telegram channel, which delivers messages to his supporters through lawyers authorized to contact him, said the fund’s advisory board would include former Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt, political scientist Francis Fukuyama, the award-winning journalist and historian Pulitzer Prize winner Anne Applebaum, and Navalny’s wife, Yulia Navalnaya.

Navalny rose to prominence using his Foundation to catalog the wealth of senior Russian officials in a series of caustic and widely watched videos, and became President Vladimir Putin’s fiercest critic.

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Last year’s court ruling banning the Foundation effectively barred its allies from running for office and gave authorities the power to jail ACF activists and freeze their bank accounts, effectively cutting off its ability to receive donations from supporters.

Navalny’s social media feeds said on Monday that the new International Anti-Corruption Foundation would be “completely transparent and understandable”, and that its first funds would be the 50,000 euro ($50,000) Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought that the European Parliament awarded him the last time. year.

“As always, we count on your help and support, and we promise that we will work well,” Navalny said.

Navalny was jailed in 2020 for breaching bail conditions upon his return from Germany, where he was recovering from near-fatal poisoning in Russia with a Soviet-era nerve toxin.

This year he was sentenced to an additional nine years in prison for fraud and contempt of court, charges he says were fabricated in order to thwart his political ambitions.

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Reuters reporting; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Hugh Lawson

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