Kremlin critic Navalny given new nine-year sentence, lawyers arrested

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny (left) during a court hearing at the IK-2 corrective penal colony on March 22, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (REUTERS)  – Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny was sentenced to nine years in prison after a Russian court found him guilty of large-scale fraud and contempt of court on Tuesday (March 22), and police detained both of his lawyers immediately after the hearing.  

Both lawyers were released by police a short time later, one of the lawyers, Vadim Kobzev, said on Twitter.

Navalny was already serving a two-and-a-half year sentence at a prison camp east of Moscow for parole violations related to charges that he says were fabricated to thwart his political ambitions. 

His current sentence will be incorporated in the one handed down on Tuesday, his lawyers said.  After his sentence was pronounced, Navalny reacted on Twitter: “I want to say: the best support for me and other political prisoners is not sympathy and kind words, but actions.  Any activity against the deceitful and thievish Putin’s regime. Any opposition to these war criminals.” 

Navalny was jailed last year when he returned to Russia after receiving medical treatment in Germany following a poison attack with a Soviet-era nerve agent during a visit to Siberia in 2020. 

Navalny blamed Putin for the attack.  

The Kremlin said it had seen no evidence that Navalny was poisoned and denied any Russian role if he was.

After the last court hearing into his case on March 15, Navalny struck a typically defiant tone, writing via Instagram: “If the prison term is the price of my human right to say things that need to be said ... then they can ask for 113 years. I will not renounce my words or deeds.”

Russian authorities have cast Navalny and his supporters as subversives determined to destabilise Russia with backing from the West. 

Many of Navalny’s allies have fled Russia rather than face restrictions or jail at home. 

Navalny’s opposition movement has been labelled “extremist” and shut down, although his supporters continue to express their political stance, including their opposition to Moscow’s military intervention in Ukraine, on social media. 

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