Alexei Navalny found guilty of “fraud” and “contempt of court”

Moscow’s Lefortovo court has found Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalni guilty of “large-scale fraud” and “contempt of court,” crimes for which the prosecutor is seeking a 13-year prison sentence. Russia’s biggest critic of the Kremlin is already serving a two-and-a-half-year sentence. “Navalni committed a fraud, that is, the appropriation of other people’s property through deceit and abuse of trust,” judge Margarita Kótova, quoted by the Interfax agency, pronounced when reading the conviction in a hearing held in the prison where the opponent and is expected to last for hours.

In addition to the prison sentence, the Russian prosecutor’s office requested last week 13 years a fine of 1.2 million rubles (about 10,500 euros at current exchange rates) for Navalni, for the two crimes of which the judge has found him guilty.

Alexei Navalny found guilty of “fraud”

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An emaciated Navalni listened to the sentence with his lawyers in a room full of prison security agents, while the judge read the accusations against him. The 45-year-old seemed unperturbed as he kept his eyes down, flipping through court documents.

The trial against Navalni began on February 16 in the facilities of the prison where he is serving his sentence, in the city of Pokrov, a hundred kilometers east of Moscow. He is accused of embezzling donations given to his anti-corruption organizations. Navalni’s Fund Against Corruption (FBK, for its acronym in Russian), which fights against illicit enrichment among senior Russian officials, was outlawed in the country in June 2021 when the Justice considered its activity as “extremist”.


Navalni reads the sentence while listening to the judge


The opponent, known for his investigations and allegations of corruption against the Russian elite, has also been found guilty of “contempt of court” due to the words he addressed to the judges during a trial last year in which he was tried for defame a World War II veteran. “Navalni’s insults made headlines in the media and amounted to an unjustified drop in the authority of the judicial system,” the prosecutor said last week.

After learning that the prosecutor wanted to lock him up in a maximum security prison for 13 years last week, Navalni wrote in his usual defiant tone: “If prison time is the price of my human right to say things that must be said… then they can ask for 113 years (of pain). I will not give up my words or my works, “he said on his Instagram.

If the prison sentence is the price of my human right to say things that need to be said… then they can ask for 113 years

Alexei Navalni

Since February 2021, Navalni, considered one of the most critical voices of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has been serving a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence for another “fraud” case dating back to 2014.

In 2020, the opponent spent several months in treatment in Germany after surviving poisoning by a nerve agent, for which he blamed Putin. “I maintain that Putin is behind the events and I have no other versions of what happened,” the opponent told the German weekly Der Spiegel after being discharged in Berlin. Russia denies the accusations.

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