Longtime Russian dissident and critic Alexei Navalny was sentenced to an additional 19 years in prison Friday on а number of extremism-related charges after a closed-door hearing. The sentence prompted condemnation from multiple countries, international organizations and human rights groups.
Interfax reported that the Moscow City Court convicted Navalny of organizing an extremist community, financing extremist activities, publicly advocating the performance of an extremist activity, rehabilitating Nazism, involving a minor in the commission of antisocial actions, and organizing an association infringing upon individuals’ liberties and rights.
Navalny’s former YouTube technical director Daniel Kholodny was also sentenced to eight years for participating in an extremist community and financing extremist activities.
Navalny is currently serving a three-and-a-half-year sentence for violating his probation in a controversial fraud case, and he will have to complete a nine-year sentence stemming from another fraud case before serving his latest one.
Navalny issued a statement after his sentence was imposed, saying:
The number of years does not matter. I perfectly understand that, like many political prisoners, I am sitting on a life sentence. Where life is measured by the term of my life or the term of life of this regime. The sentencing figure is not for me. It is for you. You, not me, are being frightened and deprived of the will to resist. You are being forced to surrender your country of Russia without a fight to the gang of traitors, thieves, and scoundrels who have seized power. Putin must not achieve his goal. Do not lose the will to resist.
Shortly after the sentence was announced, numerous countries and organizations, including the US, the EU, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch, condemned it as “politically-motivated.” EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell Fontelles said:
This is a stark indication that the Russian legal system continues to be instrumentalised against Mr Navalny. It also shows how much Russian authorities are afraid of him. Mr Navalny is yet another example of the continued systematic crackdown by the Russian authorities, and their disregard for the human rights of their own citizens.
Navalny has been in custody since January 2021, when he returned to Russia after being poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent, allegedly by the FSB. Since his imprisonment, Navalny has alleged that authorities engineered a set-up to provoke him into committing a crime and that authorities willfully damaged his health by placing him in a “punishment cell.”
Shortly after Alexi’s 2021 arrest, his Youtube Channel posted a video entitled “Putin’s palace. History of world’s largest bribe,” accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin of secretly building a villa on Russia’s Black Sea coast.
Last month, another Russian court found a member of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation guilty of similar extremism charges.