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Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny sentenced to nine more years in prison

Russia’s main opposition determine, Alexei Navalny, was sentenced to 9 extra years in jail on costs of fraud and contempt of courtroom, in a case his supporters say was introduced in opposition to him on the orders of President Vladimir Putin.

The recent sentence comes as Russian authorities search to place down any dissent in opposition to Mr. Putin’s battle in opposition to Ukraine, which has stalled within the face of stiff Ukrainian resistance. Russian authorities have detained greater than 15,000 folks in antiwar rallies for the reason that invasion started on Feb. 24, in keeping with OVD-Information, an unbiased group which displays detentions at protests. In addition they handed a regulation earlier this month that imposes a penalty of as much as 15 years in jail on anybody who criticizes the Russian military or refers to its offensive as an invasion or a battle.

Mr. Navalny, who has from behind bars referred to as on his supporters to protest the battle, was already serving a jail sentence that started in February final yr, for violating parole referring to an earlier fraud conviction that he and his supporters say was additionally politically motivated.

A choose on Tuesday dominated that Mr. Navalny had stolen donations from the Anti-Corruption Basis, a nonprofit he based that labored to analyze official corruption in Russia earlier than it was banned as an “extremist” group final yr, in keeping with a video stream from a courtroom at his penal colony 85 miles east of Moscow. Based on prosecutors, Mr. Navalny stole about 350 million rubles, roughly $3.4 million, from the inspiration. The opposition politician denied the costs.

Russian safety forces detained Mr. Navalny on his return to Russia in January 2021, after he had spent 5 months recovering in Germany from a poisoning assault that German scientists mentioned used Novichok, a Soviet-era nerve agent. Mr. Navalny accuses Mr. Putin of ordering the assault, a declare the Kremlin has repeatedly denied. The Kremlin additionally denies concentrating on Mr. Navalny for his criticism of Mr. Putin.

“There isn’t any doubt that the choice to arrest Navalny was made by Putin personally,” Mr. Navalny’s spokeswoman, Kira Yarmysh, mentioned from Vilnius, Lithuania, the place a lot of his aides at the moment are based mostly. “At first he tried to kill Alexei, and when he failed, he determined to maintain him in jail without end.”

Mr. Navalny, 45, was additionally hit with a effective of 1.2 million rubles on Tuesday.

However Mr. Putin’s most outstanding critic, who appeared gaunt within the courtroom inside his maximum-security jail, was sometimes defiant after the ruling.

“9 years. Effectively, because the characters of my favourite TV collection ‘The Wire’ used to say: ‘You solely do two days. That’s the day you go in and the day you come out,’” his Twitter account, which is dealt with by his workforce, posted in a reference to the favored HBO collection. Mr. Navalny usually relays messages for his social media accounts via his authorized workforce.

Mr. Navalny additionally urged his supporters to proceed taking motion “in opposition to the deceitful and thievish Putin’s regime. Any opposition to those battle criminals.”

Antiwar rallies, which gathered hundreds of Russians throughout dozens of cities earlier this month, have dwindled in current days, as many Russians go away the nation with sanctions starting to chew and authorities mounting a strain marketing campaign.

Since Mr. Putin launched his invasion of neighboring Ukraine, some two dozen unbiased Russian media organizations have been compelled to close down or chosen to cease operations, whereas Fb, Twitter and Instagram have been blocked within the nation. Investigators final week launched the primary three felony circumstances in opposition to Russians for criticizing the battle.

State-backed polling exhibits that round two-thirds of Russians again the marketing campaign. A survey by the unbiased Levada Heart pollster earlier this month tracked with these outcomes. Specialists warning in opposition to taking the indications of Mr. Putin’s assist at face worth, however say that broadly Russians do assist him.

Mr. Navalny’s trial, which began on Feb. 16, was overshadowed by tensions round Ukraine and the next invasion. All the hearings had been held at his jail, which Mr. Navalny’s supporters say was meant to maintain his case out of the highlight.


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