A year after his Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) was declared extremist by the Kremlin, Alexei Navalny, a longtime critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has created a new international anti-corruption fund. It’s somewhat unclear if this is a new concept or if it’s a rebranding of the original foundation, formulated to avoid re-arrest.
Navalny is a Russian opposition leader, lawyer and anti-corruption activist. He has repeatedly spoken out against Putin and the Russian government, organized anti-corruption protests and ran for office to advocate for anti-corruption reforms in government.
Through his large following on social media platforms, Navalny has published documents on corruption in Russia and investigations of corrupt senior government officials and their associates. He was a member of the Coordination Council of the Russian Opposition, leader of the Russia of the Future Party and is recognized by Amnesty International as a “prisoner of conscience”.
In 2016 Navalny launched his presidential campaign for the 2018 elections, but was banned by Russia’s Central Election Commission due to a previous criminal conviction – the Supreme Court rejected his appeal. Navalny launched Smart Voting in 2018, a tactical voting strategy implemented to shore up the votes of opponents of United Russia.
With his firm opposition to the current regime in Russia, Navalny is seen as an enemy of Putin, and the Kremlin is doing what it can to silence his voice. In August 2020, Navalny was hospitalized and in serious condition after being poisoned by Novichok – a Soviet-era nerve agent. He was medically evacuated to Berlin for treatment. Navalny accused Putin of poisoning him, and an investigation later named Russian Federal Security Service agents responsible.
Navalny was immediately arrested upon his return to Russia and charged with violating the parole imposed on him following his 2014 conviction while in Germany. Following his arrest and the broadcast of his documentary Putin’s Palace, which accused Putin of corruption, mass protests took place across Russia.
In March 2022, he was sentenced to a further nine years after being found guilty of contempt of court and embezzlement, a decision Amnesty International calls fraudulent.
Although he is currently still imprisoned, this week Navalny took to Twitter to announce that his new foundation would be transparent and that “Putin and his crooks” would not succeed in their efforts to destroy the foundation.
“The Foundation will be completely transparent and clear,” Navalny wrote in a tweet. “The first contribution to its existence will be the Sakharov Prize, awarded to me by the European Parliament (50,000 euros).”
The advisory board will include Guy Verhofstadt, former Belgian Prime Minister and Member of the European Parliament; Anne Applebaum, Pulitzer Prize-winning publicist; the philosopher Francis Fukuyama; and Navalny’s wife, Yulia Navalnaya.