Navalny's Situation Gets More Grim

Russian opposition leader facing decades more in prison on new charges
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 27, 2023 10:45 AM CDT
Navalny's Situation Gets More Grim
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is seen on a TV screen as he appears in a video link provided by the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service in a courtroom in Moscow on Wednesday.   (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko.)

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is facing up to 65 additional years in prison on new, unsubstantiated charges of extremism and orchestrating "terrorist attacks," according to his team. Navalny, one of Vladimir Putin's most outspoken critics, is currently serving a nine-year sentence following a 2022 conviction for large-scale fraud. He's also to stand trial for extremism charges, for which he could face up to 30 additional years in prison, likely at the end of May, Navalny spokesperson Kira Yarmysh wrote Wednesday on Twitter, per CNN, adding separate terrorism charges could mean another 35 years of incarceration.

Russia's Investigative Committee opened a criminal case against Navalny after a Moscow court labeled his Anti-Corruption Foundation as an extremist group in 2021. A hearing on the resulting extremism charges took place at Moscow's Basmanny District Court on Wednesday. That's when Yarmysh complained that new charges had been brought. ACF's director, Ivan Zhdanov, says all of the foundation's founders are facing terrorism charges related to comments Navalny's chief of staff, Leonid Volkov, made about Putin in a YouTube video last year. But Zhdanov says the charges also relate to the April 2 bombing of a St. Petersburg cafe, which killed a pro-Russian military blogger.

Russia's National Anti-Terrorism Committee has claimed the attack was planned by the special services of Ukraine with the help from the ACF—a claim the foundation denies. This comes as Navalny's health continues to deteriorate inside Penal Colony No. 2 east of Moscow. He's said to have rapidly lost weight in recent weeks while complaining about a lack of medical care. His daughter, Daria Navalnaya, has more recently claimed prison authorities are limiting the amount of food he can eat, per CNN. Citing information from lawyers, she says oats purchased by Navalny "are brought to him, shown to him, and then are just destroyed." Amid a crackdown on dissent in Russia, another high-profile dissident is facing prison time for speaking negatively of Russian troops, the BBC reports. (More Alexei Navalny stories.)

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