'Terrorism' and 'extremism': Navalny denounces 'absurd' accusations

Vladimir Putin's pet peeve is rising

'Terrorism' and 'extremism': Navalny denounces 'absurd' accusations

Vladimir Putin's pet peeve is rising. While he faces life imprisonment, Russian opponent Alexei Navalny has deemed the charges of "extremism" and "terrorism" against him "absurd". These prosecutions are part of a broader wave of repression, in parallel with the Russian offensive in Ukraine. And for good reason, at the very moment when Alexei Navalny appeared by videoconference during a hearing in Moscow, another prominent opponent, Yevgeny Roizman, pleaded not guilty at the opening of his trial for having "discredited" the army. in Yekaterinburg (Urals).

The superposition of these two cases illustrates the acceleration of repression in Russia, with the multiplication in a few weeks of trials and convictions which have crushed any form of opposition.

During Wednesday's hearing, Alexei Navalny lambasted "absurd charges" against him, saying he faced up to 35 years in prison in the still-unclear "extremism" charges. Separately, the opponent, who is currently serving a nine-year prison sentence for "fraud", said he learned that another case for "terrorism" was being compiled, in which he says he faces prison. for life.

Navalny has been incarcerated since 2021 after narrowly surviving poisoning he blames on power. His supporters accuse the Kremlin of harassing this activist who made himself known through anti-corruption investigations.

Nearly 1,800 km east of Moscow, in Yekaterinburg, was taking place at the same time the first hearing in an awaited trial, that of the charismatic former mayor of this great city in the Urals, Evgeni Roizman. The 60-year-old former mayor is accused of "discrediting" the Russian army in a video he posted on YouTube in July 2022 criticizing the offensive in Ukraine. He faces up to five years in prison, under a law passed in Russia in the wake of the launch of the offensive in Ukraine at the end of February 2022.

When the judge asked him if he admitted his guilt in the case, Yevgeny Roizman replied "no", stressing that he would explain himself further after the presentation of the charges. Roizman, who was mayor of Yekaterinburg between 2013 and 2018, appeared smiling and relaxed, wearing blue jeans and a white T-shirt. The hearing took place in a small room in the Oktyabrsky court in this city. "It's clear what's going on," Evgeni Roizman eluded, speaking to the press after the hearing. The trial is due to resume on May 10.

Alexei Mossine, local head of the NGO Memorial, dissolved in Russia, came to the hearing on Wednesday to support Yevgeny Roizman. "They are judging a man who called a spade a spade," he told AFP. Already tested by previous waves of repression, the Russian opposition has been crushed since the assault in Ukraine. The last great critics of Vladimir Putin emigrated or received heavy sentences.

On Wednesday, the prosecution requested twelve years in prison against Lilia Tchanycheva, a former official of the organization of Alexeï Navalny, arrested at the end of 2021 and accused of "extremism". In a joint protest, several reputable Russian NGOs, including Memorial and OVD-Info, announced on Tuesday that they had seized the Supreme Court to seek the annulment of around 20 administrative convictions for "discrediting" the army. But their approach, essentially symbolic, has almost no chance of succeeding.