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Russia shuts down opposition leader Alexey Navalny's anti-corruption foundation

Putin crackdown on critic Navalny continues
Putin's prosecutors silence Navalny's groups in sweeping new order shutting them down 02:11

Russia's government has ordered opposition leader Alexey Navalny's political organization to shut down, at least for now. The fierce critic of President Vladimir Putin just ended a three-week hunger strike in a Russian prison.

CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reports that Navalny's supporters used his strike action as a springboard for new anti- government protests.

Particularly among younger Russians, the movement spearheaded by Navalny has galvanized into a powerful groundswell of domestic opposition to Putin, and that's exactly what prosecutors hope to shut down with their latest move.

Navalny himself was the victim of an assassination attempt last summer — poisoned with the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok. He accuses the Kremlin, and Putin himself, of ordering the attack. The U.S. and other Western nations agree.

October 2020: Alexey Navalny describes the poisoning ordeal he says Vladimir Putin perpetrated 14:00

The Kremlin has steadfastly denied any role in the poisoning, but as soon as Navalny recovered from treatment in Germany and returned to Russia, he was sent to jail.

Now a court wants to silence his anti-corruption foundation, too, by labeling it an extremist organization, on par with ISIS and al Qaeda. The court's ruling is pending, but the government has ordered the foundation to be shut down while the extremist designation is considered.

Palmer asked Vladimir Ashurkov, the foundation's director, why he believes the Kremlin would take such a dramatic step to silence Navalny's organization.

"I guess because over the years, Navalny and our organization emerged as the most important opponent to Vladimir Putin," he told CBS News.

The foundation has consistently highlighted alleged corruption in Putin's close circles. Most recently, it released a video showing a vast country estate allegedly built for the Russian leader.

The video showed, among other luxuries at the estate, gold-plated toilet brushes. It was viewed more than 115 million times. The toilet brushes went viral on social media. Since the video, anti-Putin protesters on the streets have carried gold-painted toilet brushes to mock the president.

The Kremlin tries to ignore Navalny. President Putin won't even say his name. But the ruthless measures being taken to repress him and his movement may backfire, serving only to add to his fame, and his support.

"Whatever comes next, Alexey has already won," Navalny's wife Yulia wrote in a letter to CBS' "60 Minutes."

Alexey Navalny's wife Yulia issues statement to 60 Minutes 01:47
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