Putin foe Navalny is given 9 years more in Russian prison

Russian court convicted Alexei Navalny, the top opposition leader, of fraud and contempt.

Putin foe Navalny is given 9 years more in Russian prison

He was sentenced to nine years more in prison. This move was seen as an effort to keep President Vladimir Putin’s most hated foe behind bars as long as possible.

This sentence comes after a year-long crackdown on Putin's supporters, opposition activists, and independent journalists. Authorities seem eager to suppress all dissent.

Navalny's associates were charged with criminal offenses and fled the country. His political infrastructure, which included an anti-corruption foundation as well as a network of regional offices across the country, was destroyed when he was labeled an extremist group.

Navalny, 45, was poisoned with nerve agent in 2020. He blames the Kremlin. Navalny is currently serving 2 1/2 years in a penal colony east Moscow for parole violations. The facility provided a temporary courtroom for the new trial.

Navalny wrote in a Facebook post shortly after the sentence: "My space flight takes a bit longer that expected."

He said that neither he nor his compatriots "will simply sit," and announced that the Anti-Corruption Foundation would be an international organization that "fights (Putin), until we win."

The foundation's website stated that they would find their mansions in Monaco and their villas in Miami. They will also discover their wealth all over the world.

He was convicted of embezzling funds he and his foundation have raised over the years, and insulting a judge in a previous trial. Navalny will appeal the decision. He has denied the allegations as being politically motivated.

Germany condemned the verdict. Its Foreign Ministry called it "part the systematic instrumentalization by the Russian judiciary system against dissidents, and the political opposition".

It was not immediately clear if Navalny would have to serve the additional nine-year sentence or where he would serve it. The original request by the prosecution was for a 13 year sentence. A fine of 1.2million rubles was also imposed by the judge (approximately $11,500).

Navalny responded to the sentence with a tweet that cited "The Wire". This is the day that you enter and the day that you leave. I had even owned a T-shirt featuring this slogan but it was confiscated by prison authorities due to the fact that it contained print extremist material.

Even his lawyers Olga Mikhailova & Vadim Kobzev were taken into custody shortly after commenting to reporters about the ruling. Mikhailova however stated that they were released by the police without being charged.

Navalny's supporters criticised the decision to move the trial that opened around a month ago to the prison instead of keeping it in Moscow. They claimed it effectively restricted access to the proceedings for media and supporters.

He was dressed in prison garb, and delivered several speeches decrying the charges.

Navalny became ill on a domestic flight in 2020. He was later diagnosed with poisoning by the chemical nerve agent Novichok. However, Russian officials strongly denied any involvement. He was taken to Germany for treatment, and he recovered for five more months.

His arrest in Russia on January 2021 triggered the largest protests in Russia's recent history. A Moscow court sentenced him to prison the following month for violating his parole terms in relation to a 2014 embezzlement conviction. The European Court of Human Rights found this violation to be "arbitrary, manifestly unreasonable"

The authorities launched a massive crackdown against his organization, his associates, and supporters. Russian officials added him, along with a few of his associates, to a state registry which labeled them terrorists and extremists.

Navalny has been the subject of several criminal investigations, which led his associates and others to believe that the Kremlin wants to keep him behind bars for life.

The closest ally of Navalny, longtime strategist Leonid Vokov, tweeted Tuesday from overseas that the plan would fail. "Putin plans, and has been planning, a lot of stuff: to make Russia one the top-five global economies, to take control of Kyiv within 96 hours, and to kill Navalny together with Novichok. His plans have failed every time. Volkov stated that the same will happen for these nine years."