Russian prosecutors want to sentence Putin opponent Alexei Navalny to 13 years in prison

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Russian authorities are demanding a 13-year prison sentence for the opposition leader Alexei Navalny Kremlin critics see a trial as an attempt to remain president Wladimir Putin‘s most ardent enemy in prison for as long as possible. Navalny, who is already serving 2 1/2 years in a penal colony east of Moscow, has been charged with fraud and contempt of court.

Prosecutors accuse him of embezzling funds he and his foundation have collected over the years and insulting a judge in a previous trial. Navalny rejects the allegations as politically motivated.

In their closing arguments Tuesday, prosecutors called for 13 years in a maximum-security prison for the anti-corruption crusader and a fine of 1.2 million rubles (about $10,700). It was not immediately clear whether Navalny should serve this sentence at the same time as his current one or in addition to it.

“You can’t put everyone in jail. Even if you ask for 113 years, you will not scare me or anyone like me,” Navalny said in court, his team wrote on social media, according to Agence France-Presse.

Journalists watched via video link as Navalny spoke in his black prison uniform.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and lawyers Olga Mikhailova and Vadim Kobzev are seen via video link on a screen during a court session at the IK-2 male correctional facility in the town of Pokrov in the Vladimir region, Russia, February 15, 2022.
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and lawyers Olga Mikhailova and Vadim Kobzev are seen via video link on a screen during a court session at the IK-2 male correctional facility in the town of Pokrov in the Vladimir region, Russia, February 15, 2022.

Reuters/Denis Kaminev


During his closing speech, the transmission kept cutting out, news site Mediazona reported.

In a statement subsequently released by supporters, Navalny said his speech focused on Russia’s military action in Russia Ukraineand called it a “bloody cover-up for the failure of Putin’s regime”.

“Everyone has to act. In their own way, as best they can, taking into account the circumstances. But act,” said Navalny.

In court he mentioned the “wonderful woman” Marina Ovsyannikovawho interrupted a state television newscast on Monday by holding up an anti-war postR

Russian state television employee interrupts live broadcast with anti-war sign

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Navalny told followers he was “perfectly fine” and “just worried about others worrying about me.”

The judge will render a verdict on March 22nd.

Navalny’s best ally, Leonid Volkov, who has left Russia where he himself faces multiple criminal cases, claimed in a Facebook post on Tuesday that authorities want the politician to stay “until the death of one of the two people – Navalny – in the Prison remains to himself or Vladimir Putin.”

“He was sentenced to life imprisonment from the start. As long as Putin is still in the Kremlin,” Volkov said on Twitter.

The trial, which opened exactly a month ago, took place 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 had been recovering for five months poisoning He blamed the Kremlin, a claim Russian officials vehemently denied. Shortly after the arrest, a court sentenced him to two and a half 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 left Russia after facing multiple criminal charges, and his Anti-Corruption Foundation and a network of nearly 40 regional offices were considered banned extremist — a designation exposing the persons involved to criminal 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.

Members of Navalny’s defense team have complained that they are not allowed to bring cellphones or laptops with files into the penal colony’s courtroom.



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