April 20, 2024

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Alexey Navalny: Russia’s opposition leader faces decades behind bars as a new trial opens

Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP/Getty Images

Navalny, second from left, is seen in a schedule from Monday’s court hearing.


Jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny He appeared in a Russian court on Monday to defend himself against new charges of extremism, in a trial that could extend his prison sentence by decades.

Navalny, who is already serving sentences totaling 11 and a half years in a maximum security facility, was charged in 2021 with “creating an extremist community,” according to a report that year by Russian state media TASS.

He and his supporters claim that the motives for his arrest and imprisonment are political, with the aim of silencing him Cash Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In comments posted on his Twitter account, Navalny said the “ridiculous” charges could see him spend another 30 years behind bars.

Dressed in a black prison uniform, Navalny, 47, appeared at the hearing in person in a courtroom at the IK-6 criminal colony in Melikhovo, about 155 miles east of Moscow.

Journalists were not admitted into the courtroom, and instead had to follow the proceedings through a live broadcast with poor sound quality. Navalny’s communications team has complained of not being able to hear what is being discussed, calling the proceedings an “incredible mess”.

In comments posted on their Telegram account, Navalny’s team criticized the court for staging a “live broadcast with brutal sound, where the meaning of what is happening can only be guessed from isolated words, with the process being recalled all the time.”

His team also alleged that the press secretary of the Moscow City Court thought the meeting was closed, and failed to enter it.

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The proceedings were held behind closed doors because the court expressed “fears of provocations against the participants in the process,” according to Tass.

Sitting at a long table with his lawyers Vadim Kobzev, Olga Mikhailova and Svetlana Davydova, Navalny asked to let his parents into the hall. Judge Andrei Suvorov said he would consider the request later.

Navalny’s team challenged judge Andrei Suvorov, telling him to step down, according to the team’s Telegram posts. It was not immediately clear why they asked to step down. The judge denied the request.

His team also asked about the location of Navalny’s hearing.

“In a normal situation, a person convicted for a new term of criminal trial is transferred from the colony to a pre-trial detention center, and the hearings take place in the courtroom. But with Navalny, of course, it is advantageous to conduct an experiment 250 kilometers from Moscow and 70 kilometers from the nearest large city – Vladimir.

The session was also attended by Daniel Kholodny, former art director of the Navalny Live YouTube channel, who is accused in the same extremism case.

Evgenia Novozhinina/Reuters

Law enforcement officers watch a video link of Navalny’s hearing on June 19.

Lilia Chanysheva, the former coordinator of Navalny’s headquarters in the western Russian city of Ufa, was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison last week, after being found guilty of “organizing an extremist community”.

Throughout the trial, Chanysheva maintained her innocence.

Following the announcement of the verdict, she said, “I am engaged in normal public political activities, to which everyone has the right under the Constitution.” “What is illegal is this justice that takes place.”

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Navalny has been imprisoned in Russia ever since back to the country In January 2021, he was charged with violating probation terms related to a year-old fraud case, which he described as politically motivated.

He had previously been transferred from Russia to Germany in August 2020, after being poisoned with a Soviet-era Novichok nerve agent. Navalny arrived In a coma In a hospital in Berlin, after a medical evacuation flight from the Siberian city of Omsk.

a joint investigation By CNN and the Bellingcat Group The Russian Security Service (FSB) was implicated in Navalny’s poisoning, piecing together how an elite unit of the agency followed Navalny’s team during his trip to Siberia, when he fell ill.

The investigation also found that this unit, which includes chemical weapons experts, has followed Navalny on more than 30 trips to and from Moscow since 2017.

Russia denies involvement in poisoning Navalny. Putin himself said in December 2020 that if the Russian security services had wanted to kill Navalny, “they would have finished” the job.