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Jailed Putin critic Alexei Navalny handed 19 more years in prison

A screen shows the already imprisoned Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny (2L) as he listens to his verdict over a series of extremism charges at the IK-6 penal colony, a maximum-security prison some 250 kilometres (155 miles) east of Moscow, in the settlement of Melekhovo in the Vladimir region on August 4, 2023.

Alexander Nemenov | Afp | Getty Images

Kremlin opposition leader Alexei Navalny was sentenced to 19 more years in prison after being found guilty in a Russian court on a series of charges, his team confirmed on Friday.

Navalny faced charges of inciting and financing “extremist activity” and “rehabilitating Nazi ideology,” charges he and his supporters reject.

In a social media post on Thursday, Navalny said that he expected to receive a “Stalinist” prison term. He has also condemned Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, calling it “the most stupid and senseless war of the 21st century.”

Navalny, one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s most vocal critics, was already serving two prison sentences. A nine-year prison sentence on charges of embezzlement and fraud and more than two years for parole violation.

Friday’s sentence marks Navalny’s third and longest prison term.

The Biden administration said that it will continue to advocate for Navalny and the “more than 500 other designated political prisoners Russia holds.”

“For years, the Kremlin has attempted to silence Navalny and prevent his calls for transparency and accountability from reaching the Russian people,” State Department spokesman Matt Miller wrote in a statement.

“By conducting this latest trial in secret and limiting his lawyers’ access to purported evidence, Russian authorities illustrated yet again both the baselessness of their case and the lack of due process afforded to those who dare to criticize the regime,” Miller added.

United Nations Human Rights Chief Volker Turk called for Navalny’s immediate release and slammed the “vague and overly broad charges.”

“The new sentence imposed today on opposition figure Alexei Navalny raises renewed serious concerns about judicial harassment and instrumentalization of the court system for political purposes in Russia,” Turk wrote in a statement.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is seen on a screen via video link from the IK-2 corrective penal colony in Pokrov before a court hearing to consider an appeal against his prison sentence, in Moscow, Russia May 17, 2022. 

Evgenia Novozhenina | Reuters

Navalny has been held in a remote penal colony since 2021. His detention came after spending nearly half a year in Germany recovering from a nerve agent poisoning in August 2020.  

A month after his poisoning, the German government said that the Russian dissident was exposed to a chemical nerve agent, adding the toxicology report provided “unequivocal evidence.” The nerve agent was in the family of Novichok, which was developed by the Soviet Union. Toxicology tests conducted in France and Sweden also came to the same conclusion.

The Kremlin has repeatedly denied having a role in Navalny’s poisoning.

In March 2021, the United States sanctioned seven members of the Russian government for the alleged poisoning and subsequent detention of Navalny. At the time, the sanctions were the first to target Moscow under President Joe Biden’s administration.

Navalny appears in Russian court after hunger strike, denounces Putin
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