Russian court convicts Kremlin critic Navalny of fraud

  • Prosecutors seek to add more prison sentence to Navalny
  • His opposition network is already banned in Russia
  • Prosecutors ask for another 13 years
  • Navalny urged Russians to protest Ukraine crackdown

(Reuters) – A Russian court convicted jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny on Tuesday of widespread fraud, in a move likely to extend the jail term of President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent critics for years.

Navalny is already serving a two-and-a-half year sentence in a concentration camp east of Moscow for parole violations related to charges he says were trumped up to thwart his political ambitions.

In the latest criminal case against him, which he also dismissed as politically motivated, up to 13 years could be added to that sentence.

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The emaciated Navalny stood next to his lawyer in a room full of prison security officers while the judge read out the charges against him. The 45-year-old seemed unfazed, and looked down as he flipped through the court papers.

Prosecutors had asked the court to send him to a high-security penal colony for 13 years for fraud and contempt of court. A verdict is expected later on Tuesday.

Navalny was imprisoned last year when he returned to Russia after receiving medical treatment in Germany following a toxic Soviet-era nerve agent attack during a visit to Siberia in 2020. Navalny blamed Putin for the attack.

The Kremlin said it had not seen any evidence of Navalny’s poisoning and denied any role for Russia if it was.

After the last court hearing in his case on March 15, Navalny took on a typical defiant tone, writing via Instagram: “If imprisonment is the price of my human right to say things that need to be said… they can ask for 113 years and I will not give up my word or my actions.” Read more

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The Russian authorities viewed Navalny and his supporters as spoilers bent on destabilizing Russia with the support of the West. Many of Navalny’s allies fled Russia rather than face restrictions or imprisonment at home.

Navalny’s opposition movement has been labeled “extremist” and shut down, although his supporters continue to express their political positions, including their opposition to Moscow’s military intervention in Ukraine, on social media.

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Writing by Kevin Levy/Reuters reporter. Editing by Reuters Editor

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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