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Vladimir Putin’s critic Alexei Navalny imprisoned for 19 years in Russia



Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny is seen on a screen via a video link from his penal colony during court hearings over the extremism criminal case against him at Russia’s Supreme Court in Moscow on June 22, 2023. — AFP

A staunch critic of the Russian elite and leadership who was poisoned in Germany Alexei Navalny was handed a sentence of 19 years Friday after the court found him guilty on a series of new charges of extremism, according to his spokesperson.

As Navalny appeared before the judge, he was in his prison attire, smiling and speaking with another defendant. 

Navalny is already serving jail time on embezzlement charges which are regarded as politically motivated according to his friends.

“Alexey Navalny was sentenced to 19 years at a maximum security penal colony,” spokesperson Kira Yarmysh said.

A day earlier, Navalny said that he is expecting a long-term verdict from a Russian court — terming it a “Stalinist” new trial — as he was arrested in the country after returning from Germany.

“It will be a long term. That’s what they call a ‘Stalinist’ term,” Alexei Navalny said in a statement as he was awaiting verdict Friday.

Prosecutors have requested 20 years in jail for Navalny, who is already serving nine years for embezzlement, which his supporters see as punishment for his political work.

The former Russian opposition leader said a heavy sentence’s “main purpose is to intimidate. You, not me”.

Navalny has a huge following on social media, where he has posted videos exposing alleged corruption among the Russian elite and mobilised massive anti-government protests.

He once again called on Russians to fight back against repression.

“When the sentence is announced, please think about only one, really important thought — what else can I personally do to resist?” he said.

“There is no shame in choosing the safest way to resist. There is shame in doing nothing,” he said.

In 2021 his organisation was declared extremist by authorities, putting employees, volunteers and supporters at greater risk of prosecution.

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