A Russian court sentenced opposition leader Alexey Navalny to another 19 years in prison after convicting him of “extremism,” a decision he had earlier described as “Stalinist.”
(Bloomberg) — A Russian court sentenced opposition leader Alexey Navalny to another 19 years in prison after convicting him of “extremism,” a decision he had earlier described as “Stalinist.”
The closed hearing Friday held inside a strict-regime prison found President Vladimir Putin’s most outspoken critic guilty of charges of founding an “extremist” group and six other related counts. The judge ordered the new term also to be served in a strict-regime prison.
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell condemned the “politically motivated” verdict. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken echoed that view and called for Navalny’s release in a social media post. The conviction is “a blatant miscarriage of justice,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on social media.
Navalny, 47, had predicted “a huge sentence, what they call a ‘Stalinist’ sentence” in a statement on his website the day before the verdict. He said he also expected prosecutors to open a case accusing him of “terrorism” soon as well, aimed at keeping him in prison for a further 10 years.
He’s already serving a nine-year term for fraud and contempt of court that was imposed after he returned to Russia in early 2021. Navalny had received treatment in Germany for a nerve-agent poisoning in Siberia that he and Western governments blamed on the Kremlin. Russian authorities denied responsibility.
Putin, Poison and the Importance of Alexey Navalny: QuickTake
Navalny and his supporters have continued to face a relentless crackdown by the authorities since Putin ordered the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.
Putin is “trying to intimidate millions” by imposing harsh sentences on opposition activists, Navalny wrote to his supporters. “When the sentence is announced, please think about only one, really important thought — what else can I personally do to resist?”
–With assistance from Iain Rogers.
(Updates with US reaction in third paragraph)
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