Putin critic Alexei Navalny sentenced to further 19 years in prison
A Russian court has convicted imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny of extremism changes and sentenced him to 19 years in prison.
Mr Navalny is already serving a nine-year term on a variety of charges that he says were politically motivated.
The new charges against the politician relate to the activities of Mr Navalny’s anti-corruption foundation and statements by his top associates.
In 2021, Russian authorities outlawed the foundation and the vast network of Mr Navalny’s offices in Russian regions, calling them extremist organisations and exposing anyone involved to possible prosecution.
Mr Navalny, 47, is Vladimir Putin’s fiercest foe and has exposed official corruption and organized major anti-Kremlin protests.
He was arrested in January 2021 upon returning to Moscow after recuperating in Germany from nerve agent poisoning. He blamed that poisoning on the Kremlin, which denied involvement.
The authorities previously sentenced him to two-and-a-half years in prison for parole violations and then to another nine years on charges of fraud and contempt of court. It wasn’t immediately clear if he will serve the new sentence concurrently with those.
‘A Stalinist term’
On the eve of the hearing, Mr Navalny released a statement on social media saying he expected his latest sentence to be “huge … a Stalinist term”.
Mr Navalny called on Russians to resist and encouraged them to support political prisoners, distribute flyers or go to a rally. He told Russians that they could choose a safe way to resist, but he added that “there is shame in doing nothing. It’s shameful to let yourself be intimidated”.
The opposition leader is currently serving his sentence in a maximum-security prison — Penal Colony No 6 in the town of Melekhovo, more than 140 miles east of Moscow.
He has spent months in a tiny one-person cell, also called a “punishment cell,” for purported disciplinary violations, such as an alleged failure to properly button his prison clothes, appropriately introduce himself to a guard or to wash his face at a specified time.