Latest news from Alexei Navalny: Putin’s enemy, who was once poisoned, has been sentenced to 9 years in prison by a Russian court

MOSCOW – Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was sentenced on Tuesday to nine years in a maximum security prison on charges of fraud and contempt of court.

A judge also ruled that Navalny had to pay a fine of 1.2 million rubles (about US$11,500). Navalny can appeal the verdict.

Navalny, who is already serving two years in a penal colony east of Moscow, had been accused of embezzling funds he and his foundation had collected over the years and of insulting a judge in a previous trial.

The politician rejects the allegations as politically motivated. Prosecutors had demanded 13 years in a high-security prison and a fine of 1.2 million rubles for the anti-corruption crusader.

It was initially unclear whether Navalny should serve this sentence at the same time or in addition and to which high-security prison he would be transferred.

Navalny’s Twitter account responded to the verdict with a quote from the TV series The Wire: “(Nine) years. Well, like the characters on my favorite TV show, The Wire, used to say, ‘You only do two days. That’s the day you go in and the day you come out.’ I even had a t-shirt with that slogan, but the prison authorities confiscated it because they thought it was extremist.”

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The trial, which opened about a month ago, was held in a makeshift courtroom in the prison colony hours from Moscow, where Navalny is serving a sentence for probation violations. Navalny’s supporters have criticized the authorities’ decision to move the trial from a courthouse in Moscow, saying they had effectively restricted media and supporters’ access to the trials.

Navalny, 45, has appeared at hearings in prison garb and made several lengthy speeches during the trial, denouncing the charges against him as false.

Navalny was arrested in January 2021 immediately after returning from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from poisoning he blamed on the Kremlin, a claim Russian officials vehemently denied. Shortly after the arrest, a court sentenced him to two years in prison for probation violations stemming from a 2014 suspended sentence in a fraud case that Navalny claims was politically motivated.

After Navalny’s arrest, the authorities launched a comprehensive crackdown on his associates and supporters. His closest allies have fled Russia after facing multiple criminal charges, and his anti-corruption foundation and a network of nearly 40 regional offices have been ostracized as extremist — a label that exposes those involved to prosecution.

Last month, Russian officials put Navalny and a number of his associates on a state register of extremists and terrorists.

Several criminal cases have been launched against Navalny, leading his staff to believe that the Kremlin intends to keep him behind bars for as long as possible.

Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Latest news from Alexei Navalny: Putin’s enemy, who was once poisoned, has been sentenced to 9 years in prison by a Russian court

Dais Johnston

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