Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been found guilty of extremism charges by a Moscow court, according to state media. The ruling comes with a 19-year sentence, adding to his already lengthy prison term. This is the fifth criminal conviction for the Kremlin’s most outspoken critic.
Navalny was charged with promoting terrorism and funding extremism. Prosecutors wanted a 20-year sentence, adding to the nine years the opposition leader is already serving in a Russian penal colony.
The Kremlin has long targeted Navalny’s organization, The Anti-Corruption Foundation. Members of the foundation have recently stated that Navalny has been in poor health in prison, and in April, they suspected he had been poisoned.
In 2020, Navalny was poisoned with a nerve agent following anti-Kremlin protests in Belarus.
He has previously said he expects to be imprisoned in Russia past 2050.
In a Thursday post on Telegram, Navalny, through his team, wrote: “Think about why such a demonstratively huge sentence is needed. Its main purpose is to intimidate. You, not me. I will even say this: you personally, reading these lines.”
The View From Germany
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock condemned the ruling saying, “Russia’s arbitrary justice system imprisoning Alexei Navalny for another 19 years is pure injustice.”
She said Putin “will not silence critical voices with this.”
The View From the European Union
Charles Michel, President of the European Commission, called for Navalny’s immediate release, writing that the verdict in “yet another sham trial” against Navalny was “unacceptable.”
He said the conviction “is the response to his courage to speak critically against the Kremlin’s regime.”