Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was sentenced to nine years in a maximum security prison Tuesday after a Russian court found him guilty of fraud and contempt of court, multiple news outlets report, in what his supporters say is the latest move from the Kremlin to keep the outspoken critic in jail for as long as possible.
Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny is seen on the screen at the press room listening to … [+] the verdict during his trial in the IK-2 prison colony on March 22, 2022 in Pokrov, Vladimir region, Russia. (Photo by Russia Out/Getty Images)
Navalny, along with his organization, the Anti-Corruption Foundation, were found guilty of embezzling donations—allegations Navalny rejected as politically motivated.
Judge Margarita Kotova said Navalny committed fraud, or “the misappropriation of someone else’s assets through lies and abuse of trust” while announcing his conviction, according to Russian news agency Interfax.
The trial was held over the course of a month in a makeshift courtroom at the prison Navalny has been held for about a year outside of Moscow, where he is serving a two and a half year prison sentence for violating his parole terms.
Navalny, 45, said in a tweet after the sentencing that the “best support” for him and other political prisoners is “not sympathy and kind words, but actions” against “Putin’s regime.”
$11,500. That’s how much in fines Navalny was also ordered to pay, in addition to the 9-year sentence.
Navalny was previously sentenced to two and a half years in prison for violating the terms of his parole while he was in a coma after he was poisoned by a Soviet-era nerve agent while traveling through Siberia in 2020. He was airlifted to and treated for four months at a hospital in Berlin, but was almost immediately detained upon his return to Russia. Navalny and his supporters believe he was poisoned on an order from Russian President Vladimir Putin. A joint investigation from Bellingcat, The Insider, Der Spiegel and CNN found evidence that government agents specializing in poisons stalked Navalny for nearly three years leading up to the poisoning.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken described the charges against Navalny as “dubious” last month. “Mr. Navalny was already issued a politically motivated sentence last year when he returned to Russia after recovering abroad because Russian government operatives poisoned him with a nerve agent,” Blinken said in a tweet. Many of Navalny’s supporters also claim the additional charges are a move by the Kremlin to keep him jailed past his previously scheduled release in 2023.
“Well, as the characters of my favorite TV series The Wire used to say: ‘You only do two days. That’s the day you go in and the day you come out,’” Navalny said in a tweet following the sentencing. “I even had a T-shirt with this slogan, but the prison authorities confiscated it, considering the print extremist.”
Even though Navalny is imprisoned, his organization is still continuing to publish investigations on YouTube. On Monday, the Anti-Corruption Foundation released a video claiming to have linked Russian President Vladimir Putin to the Scheherazade, one of the world’s largest yachts worth an estimated $700 million.
$700 Million Superyacht Tied To Putin, According To Navalny Organization’s New Video (Forbes)
Russia Adds Jailed Opposition Leader Navalny To Terror List (Forbes)
Biden Warns Russia That Navalny Must Leave Prison Alive (Forbes)