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Court upholds nine-year prison sentence for Kremlin critic Navalny

Court upholds nine-year prison sentence for Kremlin critic Navalny

A Russian court has rejected an appeal by Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny against a nine-year prison sentence.

A judge said Tuesday in Moscow that the ruling on March 22 has not changed and will take effect immediately. This means that Navalny will be transferred to a penal colony with more severe prison conditions. Navalny was sentenced to nine years in prison in March for embezzlement and contempt of court.

Navalny, who was already in prison, participated in the court session – behind bars – via the video link. Dressed in prisoner black clothes and a winter jacket, he appeared composed at first and was joking about sound transmission problems.

He followed the verdict with an angry face and did not falter at his words when he was allowed to speak one last time at the end of the trial: “I disdain your court and order,” he said, and the trial issued “no sense.”

“Of course I don’t want to be stuck in a dungeon,” he said. “I’d rather see my kids grow up,” he called on people to “not be afraid.” He added that fear is a “crime against our future.”

He asks to see his family

The appeal process began last week, but Navalny requested a week’s postponement of the hearing so he could meet his family again before being transferred to another criminal colony.

The opposition member has been in prison since January 2021 due to other allegations. In March, a court ruled that Navalny had used millions of euros in donations paid to his political organizations for personal purposes.

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Navalny was arrested in January 2021 after returning from Berlin. In Germany, he spent several months recovering from a nerve gas attack, which he blamed on the Kremlin. Moscow denies these allegations.

Since his imprisonment, the Russian authorities have suppressed critical voices and independent media, especially since the start of the Russian offensive on Ukraine. The most important Navalny organizations were banned. The Kremlin critic himself and some of his associates had been placed on the authorities’ list of “terrorists and extremists” in January.