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Alexei Navalny: Russian prosecutors seek 20-year term

July 20, 2023

Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny is already serving sentences totaling more than 11 years on charges that he says are politically motivated. Now, prosecutors want to add 20 years on charges of "extremism."

Alexei Navalny in his prison cell
Alexei Navalny is currently detained in the IK-6 penal colony east of MoscowImage: Natalia KOLESNIKOVA/AFP

Russian state prosecutors requested an additional 20-year prison sentence for Alexei Navalny ,  the Kremlin-critic's political ally Ivan Zhdanov said Thursday. 

Zhdanov said prosecutors sought to sentence Navalny on further charges related to "inciting and financing extremist activity" and "creating an extremist organization," all of which Navalny and his associates say are politically motivated.

Russia's state-run TASS news agency said a verdict would be announced on August 4.

Who is Alexei Navalny?

Navalny is an outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin. He was arrested in January 2021 after returning to Russia from Germany where he had been recovering from nerve agent poisoning he blamed on the Kremlin. 

Russian authorities then sentenced him to more than 2 years in prison on parole violation charges, and a further nine-year term on fraud and contempt of court charges. Navalny maintains that the charges and his lengthy prison sentences are an attempt to silence Russia's political opposition. He is currently incarcerated in a maximum security prison outside Moscow. 

In a statement released Thursday by his legal team, Navalny said: "Anyone in Russia knows that a person who seeks justice in a court of law is completely vulnerable. The case of that person is hopeless."

Navalny slams invasion of Ukraine

During the closed-door hearing on Thursday, Navalny condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

His aides passed on the Kremlin critic's statement to the outside world.

Navalny said that Russia is "floundering in a pool of either mud or blood, with broken bones, with a poor and robbed population, and around it lie tens of thousands of people killed in the most stupid and senseless war of the 21st century."

The Kremlin denies persecuting Navalny, and claims his case is a matter for the courts to decide.

zc/wmr (Reuters, AFP, AP)