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Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s jail term extended to 19 yrs

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Moscow, Aug 5 (IANS) The prison term of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has been extended to 19 years in addition to the nine-year term he was already serving for parole violations, fraud and contempt of court.

The trial was held on Friday in a remote penal colony in the town of Melekhovo, 150 miles east of Moscow, where Navalny has been in since 2021, reports the BBC.

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The proceedings were closed to the press and the public.

The Kremlin’s most vocal critic, who was found guilty of founding and funding an extremist organisation, will serve his time in a “special regime colony”, which Russian state prosecutors had been calling for.

Such prisons are normally reserved for dangerous criminals, re-offenders and those with life imprisonment.

There he is likely to face greater isolation, with further restrictions on communications with the outside world.

He could also receive fewer visitors than he is used to, including his family and defence team, and may face longer periods of solitary confinement, the BBC reported.

After the verdict, in a message to supporters posted for him on X (formerly Twitter), Navalny remained defiant.

“You, not me, are being frightened and deprived of the will to resist. Putin must not achieve his goal. Do not lose the will to resist,” he wrote.

“Nineteen years in a special regime colony. The figure doesn’t mean anything. I fully understand that, like many political prisoners my sentence is for life. Life is measured either by my lifespan or that of the regime.”

For over a decade, Navalny sought to expose corruption at the heart of Russian power. His video investigations have received tens of millions of views online.

He also seemed to be the only Russian opposition leader capable of mobilising people in large numbers across Russia to take part in anti-government protests.

But in 2020, he was poisoned in Siberia by what Western laboratories later confirmed to be a nerve agent.

After recovering from the attack, Navalny returned to Russia in 2021 despite warnings that he could face arrest.

He was immediately arrested upon arrival at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport.



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