Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny and a handful of his allies were added on Tuesday to an official list of "terrorists and extremists", the latest in a series of moves by Russian authorities to stamp out their opposition to President Vladimir Putin.
News agencies reported separately that the federal prison service had demanded that Navalny's brother Oleg be given a real jail term in place of a one-year suspended sentence handed to him last year.
Navalny, an anti-corruption campaigner and a thorn in Putin's side for the past decade, survived being poisoned with a nerve agent in 2020 and was jailed last year on parole violations related to an earlier fraud case he says was trumped up. His political network was banned as "extremist" last year.
The "terrorist" listing by the state financial monitoring service means Navalny and the members of his team are subject to limits on bank transactions and need to seek approval every time they want to use their accounts.
Navalny's chief of staff Leonid Volkov said on Facebook: "I'm proud to work in our fine team of 'extremists and terrorists'. By devaluing the meaning of words and turning their meaning inside out, the Kremlin is digging a deeper hole for itself. It's doing all it can to make those who still believe Putin stop to believing him."
Lyubov Sobol, one of the faces of Navalny's popular YouTube channel, told Ekho Moskvy radio that Putin was declaring anyone he didn't like to be a terrorist.
Sobol was added to the list on Tuesday, and Volkov earlier this month. Both are among a group of Navalny's leading allies who have fled Russia to avoid arrest.
Navalny's brother Oleg was given a one-year suspended sentence last August. He was among a group of people accused of inciting people to break Covid-19 restrictions by attending unauthorized protests in January 2021.
According to a report from Business Insider, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) is being kept at arm's length by a substantial number of his Republican colleagues as the investigation into allegations he engaged in sex trafficking appears to be coming to an end.
Two weeks ago it was reported that his former girlfriend was granted immunity before testifying before a Florida grand jury which led former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance to caution, "It's never a good sign for the target when a key witness gets immunity to testify in front of the grand jury."
According to Kimberly Leonard, Camila DeChalus, and Bryan Metzger of Business Insider, "Most Republicans are neither embracing nor condemning scandal-ridden Rep. Matt Gaetz. Yet they may soon face a decision day — one they've been happy to avoid, since Gaetz is one of former President Donald Trump's most vocal defenders — and some Republicans are quietly preparing for the real possibility that federal officials will charge the Florida Republican with crimes."
As to why they have refrained from any negative comments about the Florida Republican, Luis Alvarado, a Republican political strategist explained, "Matt Gaetz is still a poster boy for Trumpism. And if you deny that, then a question arises whether you're still part of that movement."
Instead, the report notes, his colleagues -- with the exception of equally controversial Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Jim Jordan (R-OH) -- have sidelined him, including not asking him to be a co-sponsor on a bill to legalize cannabis written by Republicans despite the fact that he is a vocal proponent of legalization.
According to Insider, "Asked about Gaetz's omission from the bill, a cannabis-industry source who spoke on condition of anonymity cited the DOJ investigation," saying, "It has been more difficult for him to lead legislative efforts because of the associated issues."
The report continues, "It shows that while Gaetz still has friends in Congress, even his allies are quietly isolating him — or at least not going out of their way to work with him," before adding, "Some Republicans, who have never much cared for Gaetz since he entered Congress in 2018, have been privately sneering at him in the months since his legal woes began, Insider previously reported. Other Republicans have given donations from Gaetz's campaign committee, called Friends of Matt Gaetz, to charity, according to Federal Election Commission records."
As for Gaetz's future, should he be indicted, one Justice Department official predicted he will still have one defender: Donald Trump.
"Gaetz is almost as toxic as Marjorie Taylor Greene," the official remarked. "However, Trump's associates are often slimy or controversial and it doesn't seem to impact his supporters."
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'As corrupt as it comes': Damning evidence puts Trump at risk in quickly moving criminal investigation
MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski said the audio from Donald Trump's call to Georgia election officials never loses its power to shock.
In fact, the "Morning Joe" co-host said, the recording -- which is now a key piece of evidence that will be heard by a grand jury -- has only gotten worse with time.
"The investigation into whether or not President Trump tried to overturn his defeat in that state -- spoiler alert, he did, so I think we got that," said panelist Jonathan Lemire. "That phone call obviously is going to be the center of this. He hits the specific vote total that he needed to overturn the result, he's leaning on a fellow Republican, secretary of state Brad Raffensperger, there. A lot of legal experts have suggested that this case poses more legal peril to him than some of the others circulating, those in New York, there's an indication Washington, D.C. might investigate his words leading up to the insurrection."
"This is something to watch carefully," he added. "The next step will be subpoenas, whether or not Trump himself or those around him, some of the aides in the White House that day, including Mark Meadows, maybe they will get them, will they be forced to testify? That we will find out in the spring."
The evidence shows Trump tried to get losing results overturned in a number of states, but Brzezinski said nothing has emerged that's quite as egregious as the Georgia call.
"You know, that phone call gets worse with time, if it's possible," she said. "I mean, it was bad when we first heard it, but hearing him say, you know, you can simply say that you recalculated -- I mean, my God, as corrupt as it comes."
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