Russia says the crackdown on opposition to the Russian government may ramp up following the country’s parliamentary elections.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Reuters opposition linked to Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny and other foreign non-governmental organizations may see the government position against them toughen, claiming the previous crackdowns on organizations had nothing to do with the elections.
"The non-systemic opposition (Navalny's allies) crossed a red line a while ago. What they were doing was using provocations and all methods to try to stir up social unrest," Peskov said.
"Naturally, any authorities would adopt as tough a position as possible to that. The aim is to maintain stability in society. There is no place for lawlessness and we are ready to force people to obey the law," he added. "This is not connected to the Duma (parliament) elections. This is our line and it will continue to be our line."
Before the election, the government labeled Navalny’s organization an “extremist group” and prohibited anyone associated with the organization from running for office. A voting site developed by Navalny’s team to promote opposition candidates was also taken down.
"This is the new normal. They're not purging everyone before the elections only to then relent, no," a source close to the Kremlin told Reuters. The source said there are “new rules of the game.”
"All activity outside the system is now essentially extremism and we're going to combat it. It's like in China, but we have our own path," the person said.
Another source with a state corporation told Reuters the government will “wipe out everyone (politically), get used to it.”
Putin’s party won a big majority during their elections in September, with opponents saying the United Russia party only won due to fraud.
Russia has also taken the fight against opposition to the media, labeling some outlets and journalists in the country “foreign agents.”