Russian opponent Alexei Navalny, already imprisoned, was sentenced on Friday to an additional 19 years in prison for “extremism”, a sentence he will have to serve in a new penal colony with particularly difficult conditions.
He was already imprisoned for nine years in harsh conditions. The main opponent of the Kremlin, Alexeï Navalny, was sentenced on Friday August 4 to an additional 19 years in prison for “extremism”. He will have to serve this sentence in a new penal colony with particularly difficult conditions.
The 47-year-old anti-corruption activist will have to serve his sentence in a “special regime” colony, one of the worst-known prisons in Russia, usually for the most dangerous criminals and lifers.
When the verdict was read, Alexeï Navalny appeared smiling and looking relaxed, according to AFP journalists on the spot, talking with his co-defendant Daniel Kholodny, a former manager of his YouTube channel.
Shortly after the announcement of his conviction, the reactions of the international community were linked. The European Union has deemed “unacceptable” the conviction of Alexei Navalny, denouncing a “politically motivated” verdict and calling again for his “immediate and unconditional” release.
For its part, the UN has called for his “immediate release”. This conviction “raises new concerns about judicial harassment and the instrumentalization of the judicial system for political ends in Russia”, denounced the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, in a press release.
France denounced “a judicial harassment” against Alexei Navalny and Germany a “flagrant injustice”.
Wave of repression
In the 18th month of the assault on Ukraine, Russia is facing a wave of repression targeting both prominent opponents, imprisoned or driven into exile, and thousands of ordinary Russians who criticized the offensive.
Long-time critic of the Russian president, Alexei Navalny saw justice hounding him before the conflict in Ukraine but his fate has worsened since.
He was imprisoned on his return to Russia in early 2021, after surviving poisoning in extremis which he blames on the Russian security services having acted on the orders of the Kremlin, then he has now been sentenced three times.
His last trial for “extremism” took place behind closed doors in the IK-6 penal colony in Melekhovo, 250 km east of Moscow, where he is currently serving a nine-year prison sentence following his conviction in June 2022 for “fraud”.
A “sinister act of political revenge”
Alexei Navalny, regularly placed in solitary confinement and faced with health problems, said on Thursday that he expected a “long, Stalinist sentence”.
The man who made himself known in particular for his investigations into the corruption of Vladimir Putin’s system and the demonstrations he organized is accused of having created an “extremist organization”.
His conviction “is a sinister act of political revenge which not only targets Navalny personally but which serves as a warning to critics of the state throughout the country”, reacted in a press release the NGO Amnesty International.
The sentence of Daniel Kholodny was not known at the present time: the hearing was broadcast on a screen for the journalists gathered in the press room of the IK-6 colony and the conditions of the broadcast were very bad.
From his prison, the opponent has also turned into a fierce critic of the conflict in Ukraine. During his trial, he thus denounced the “tens of thousands of deaths in the most stupid and senseless war of the 21st century”. “Sooner or later (Russia) will recover. And it depends on us what it will build on in the future,” he added.
Sent 17 times to the disciplinary cell
The Kremlin presents the opponent as a simple criminal, ensuring that the proceedings against him have nothing to do with politics.
Always combative, Alexeï Navalny recounts on social networks, through messages sent by his lawyers, his prison life and denounces, often with irony, the harassment he suffers there.
He was thus sent 17 times to a disciplinary cell, where he was forced to listen to speeches by Vladimir Putin.
It was in one of these cells that he awaited his verdict, punished by 13 days of solitary confinement for having “badly presented” to his guards, explained at the end of July his lawyer Vadim Kobzev on X (ex -Twitter).
Mr. Navalny’s legal marathon also risks not stopping there. He says he is also being prosecuted for a case of “terrorism” in another procedure, of which few details are known at the moment.