Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been sentenced to 9 years in a maximum-security prison on charges of fraud. Russian authorities claim that he stole $4.7 million of donations made to his organization, the Anti-Corruption Foundation. Navalny is currently in prison serving a three-and-a-half-year sentence after being charged in February 2021 for violating his parole. This alleged parole violation occurred in August 2020, when Navalny was evacuated from Russia to Germany to receive life-saving medical aid after he was poisoned by the FSB.
Ned Price, spokesman for the US State Department, called the trial a “sham.” The witnesses used against Navalny were reportedly blackmailed by the prosecution to do so.
In reaction to the sentencing and those who are speaking out against it, Navalny tweeted: “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.”
When asked about Navalny’s personal safety, Vladimir Ashurkov, the director of the Anti-Corruption Foundation, said that he doesn’t even feel safe in London from Russian Security Services. All the worse for Navalny, Ashurkov warns: “A Russian prison cell is not a secure place—it’s probably the least secure place.”
Ashurkov went on to say that he does not expect Navalny to be free until Vladimir Putin is out of power.
Navalny’s aides worry that his transfer to a higher security prison will inhibit their ability to contact Navalny during his prison term, as well as subject the political prisoner to even worse and more life-threatening conditions.