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Moscow Court Orders Closure Of Key Navalny Campaign Foundation

Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny (file photo)

A court in Moscow has ordered the closure of a foundation that was the bulwark of opposition politician Aleksei Navalny's presidential campaign.

The Meshchansky District Court issued the ruling on January 22 after the Justice Ministry earlier this month filed a lawsuit with the court seeking to shutter the Fifth Season of the Year Foundation.

The ministry argued that the foundation had broken the law by providing a false address for its permanent administrative body, failing to register some of its structures, and financial misuse.

The foundation's representative, Vyacheslav Gimadi, said that the court's ruling would be appealed.

Navalny, an anticorruption crusader and vocal opponent of President Vladimir Putin, has campaigned for the March 18 election for over a year despite warnings -- confirmed by a formal decision in December -- that he would be barred from the ballot due to a criminal conviction he says was fabricated.

Navalny's campaign chief, Leonid Volkov, said in November that the Fifth Season of the Year Foundation is the legal entity that officially employs workers of Navalny's campaign offices across Russia, receives financial contributions from supporters, and concludes lease agreements and other deals on behalf of Navalny's campaign.

Putin, who has been president or prime minister since 1999, is seeking a new six-year term in the election.

Kremlin critics contend that most of the other candidates are being used as window-dressing in an election he is certain to win in Russia's tightly controlled political environment.

Based on reporting by Interfax and TASS