Russian prosecutors asked a court Tuesday to lock up Kremlin critic and anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny for an extra 13 years, Russian state media reported.
State prosecutors said they were seeking the additional jail time for fraud and contempt of court, and also asked the court to impose a 1.2 million ruble — around €10,000 — fine on Navalny, who has been a long-time outspoken opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“The request is awful but predictable,” said Pavel Chikov, a senior lawyer and head of human rights body Agora, which has represented hundreds of Navalny supporters, but admitted “so far, it’s [just] the prosecutor asking, not the court’s decision.”
Navalny was arrested on his arrival back to Russia in January 2021 after being treated in Germany following a suspected Kremlin-sanctioned poisoning. Russian authorities then slapped Navalny with a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence for what it said were parole violations.
Speaking to the makeshift court in the jail where Navalny is held, located around 100 kilometers east of Moscow, state prosecutor Nadezhda Tikhonova accused the 45-year-old of embezzling funds “from an indefinite circle of people” and insulting the court officials during his trial in February last year. She claimed Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation had defrauded Russians donating to the organization by allegedly funneling money to fund his own presidential nomination despite being barred from running due to a previous criminal conviction.
According to Navalny’s press secretary Kira Yarmysh, the state prosecutor also demanded that Navalny be put in a maximum security facility — where Russian prisoners often share cells with up to 50 others and have less than 2 square meters of space to themselves.
“Alexei Navalny’s sentence has long been known: life imprisonment,” said Navalny’s chief of staff Leonid Volkov, reacting to the judgement on his Telegram channel. “Until the end of the life of one of two people — Navalny himself or that of Vladimir Putin.”
“Navalny will not sit in prison for 13 years — Putin will die much earlier,” he added.
In January, Russia added Navalny and several of his top aides to the country’s “terrorists and extremists” register.