Vladimir Putin asked prosecutors for more repression against those who “destabilize” Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting of the General Prosecutor’s Office in Moscow, Russia, March 15, 2023. (Sputnik/Pavel Bednyakov/REUTERS) (SPUTNIK/)

The Russian President, Vladimir Putincalled on prosecutors on Wednesday to increase pressure on the “attempts to destabilize” the internal situation in Russia in the midst of the offensive against Ukraine.

Moscow has intensified its suppression of critical voices since sending troops to Ukraine last year, introducing new legislation to silence dissent.

“I ask you to react harshly to the attempts to destabilize the sociopolitical situation of the country,” Putin said during a meeting with the Russian prosecutor general’s office.

“Prosecutors must be more active in the fight against extremismPutin added.

Moscow has used the extremist label to attack opposition figures and civil society organizations.

The prisoner’s organization Alexei Navalnycritical of the Kremlin, was described as an “extremist” in 2021, which led to the arrest of several of his followers and the sending of others into exile abroad.

The Russian opponent Alexei Navalny, imprisoned (REUTERS / Evgenia Novozhenina / file)
Russian opponent Alexei Navalny, jailed (REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina/file) (EVGENIA NOVOZHENINA/)

The Russian list of extremist organizations includes jihadist groupsthe Jehovah’s Witnesses and, from 2022, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, US tech giant Meta.

Last year, 23 foreign NGOs were declared “undesirable” in Russia, Attorney General Igor Krasnov said during the meeting on Wednesday.

Since the start of the offensive against Ukraine, Russia has passed new laws against critics, including a law criminalizing what authorities consider “fake news” about the military.

Authorities detained at least 19,500 people protesting against the conflict, according to a count by rights watchdog group OVD-Info.

The conflict also triggered a series of arson attacks against military recruitment offices.

On Wednesday, a Russian military court sentenced Kirill Butylin22, to 13 years in prison for burning down a conscription office in a town on the outskirts of Moscow, Russian news agencies reported.

Putin also told the prosecutors to reinforce “the protection of the fundamental rights of the militaryparticipants and veterans of the special military operation” in Ukraine.

“We are creating large-scale positive changes aimed at strengthening the country’s sovereignty and its future,” Putin said.

(With information from AFP)

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