Alexei Navalny: Russian opposition leader faces more jail time after court conviction

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and his lawyers Olga Mikhailova and Vadim Kobzev are seen on a screen via video link during a court hearing at the corrective penal colony IK-2 in Pokrov, Vladimir region, in Russia, March 22, 2022. (Evgenia Novozhenina/Reuters)

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was sentenced to an additional nine years in prison after being found guilty of embezzlement and contempt of court on Tuesday.

“Navalny committed fraud – the theft of property by an organized group,” announced the verdict of judge Margarita Kotova, according to Agence France-Presse. The court also found him guilty of disrespecting the court.

The extension of the sentence was announced shortly after the verdict, according to the Moscow time.

Navalny had been accused of stealing several million dollars in donations to his Anti-Corruption Foundation. The prosecution in the case last week demanded that Navalny’s sentence be extended to 13 years, that he be transferred to a ‘strict regime’ penal colony and that he pay a fine of 1.2 million rubles. , or about $11,500.

The anti-corruption activist had previously been jailed for two and a half years in a detention center for violating probation linked to a previous conviction on embezzlement charges. Navalny voluntarily returned to Russia to face the charges after spending a month in a German hospital, where he was being treated for nerve agent poisoning.

The former mayoral and presidential candidate claimed his treatment was politically motivated and authorized by the Putin regime. The Kremlin has denied playing a role. Demonstrations erupted across Russia in the two weeks before his sentencing and also after his delivery, which were crushed by Russian authorities.

Navalny looked defiant and calm in front of the video camera on Tuesday, flipping through documents as the verdict was read. Each time he was found guilty of criminal activities by Russia, he doubled down. On March 15, he posted on Instagram, “If jail time is the price of my human right to say things that need to be said… then they can ask for 113 years. I will not deny my words or my deeds.

Navalny and his close associates have been placed on the federal register of “extremists and terrorists” in Russia, according to Russia’s Federal Financial Monitoring Service. Russian courts banned his Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) last year, calling it an “extremist” group.

The likely extension of the dissident’s prison comes amid Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, which has sparked anti-war protests across Russia and police crackdowns. At the start of the conflict, Russian police arrested thousands of protesters calling for peace. In January, Navalny slammed the Biden administration for failing to confront the Kremlin over its aggression, likening the United States to a “scared schoolboy” cowering to a bully. By then, Russia had stepped up its provocation, stationing more than 100,000 troops along its border with Ukraine.

Navalny said Times Simon Shuster, “Time and time again the West falls into Putin’s basic traps. It takes my breath away how Putin pulls this over and over again at the American establishment.

President Biden has repeatedly condemned Russia’s treatment of Navalny, warning last June that his death would erode US-Russian relations. But this relationship has deteriorated sharply anyway since Russia launched the assault on its neighbor.

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