Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was sentenced to 19 years in prison for extremism, according to Russian media reports. He is also accused of “rehabilitating Nazi ideology” and publicly inciting extremist activity. Navalny denies all charges and claims the trial is politically motivated.
Ahead of the verdict, Navalny wrote on social media:
– It will be a long prison sentence, a Stalinist sentence.
The trial was held at the high-security IK-6 prison in Moscow, where Navalny is already serving a nine-year sentence.
The new charge stems from Navalny’s anti-corruption foundation and party office, which were previously labeled as extremist organizations by Russian authorities in 2021. Navalny appeared in the courtroom dressed in a prison suit, and listened with a serious expression as the verdict was read out.
The Western world has reacted strongly to the verdict. France has described it as “judicial persecution”. Volker Turk, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, called for the immediate release of Navalny. Turk expressed his concern in a statement:
– Today’s new verdict against opposition figure Alexei Navalny raises renewed serious concerns about judicial harassment and exploitation of the court system for political purposes in Russia.
The President of the EU Council, Charles Michel, also criticized the verdict:
– The latest verdict in yet another show trial against Alexei Navalny is unacceptable.
France and Germany join in the criticism. A French foreign ministry spokesperson calls for Navalny’s immediate and unconditional release, calling the incident a “judicial persecution”.