Responding to the news that Aleksei Navalny, a prisoner of conscience and a leading figure in Russia’s political opposition movement, has been sentenced to 19 years in a penal colony on trumped-up “extremism”-related charges, adding at least 10 years to his current 9-year prison term, Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, said:
“This new sentence against Aleksei Navalny to at least 10 more years in prison is little more than a stealthily imposed life sentence. It is also a sinister act of political vengeance that not only targets Navalny personally but serves as a warning to state critics across the country. The outcome of today’s sham trial offers just the latest example of the systematic oppression of Russian civil society that has intensified since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year.”
This new sentence against Aleksei Navalny to 10 more years in prison is little more than a stealthily imposed life sentence
“We urge the Russian authorities to end Aleksei Navalny’s unjust imprisonment and release him immediately and unconditionally. The world is watching, and we will continue to speak out until justice is served when Navalny and all others unjustly imprisoned regain their freedom.”
Further Background on Aleksei Navalny’s case
On 4 August, the Moscow City Court sentenced Aleksei Navalny to 19 years in a penal colony on charges including financing and inciting “extremism” and “rehabilitating the Nazi ideology.” This new sentence adds a further at least 10 years to his current prison terms.
The trial took place at IK-6, a penal colony in Melekhovo, Vladimir Oblast, where Aleksei Navalny is currently serving a 9-year sentence on politically motivated charges. Reporters were not allowed inside the “courtroom” and had to watch the proceedings via a video feed from a separate building. Several hearings were held behind closed doors on baseless arguments of “security reasons.”
The new charges are related to the activities of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, which was outlawed by the Russian authorities in 2021, and to statements made by its senior members. One of Navalny’s associates, Daniel Kholodny, was relocated from a different prison to face trial alongside him. Kholodny was found guilty of “participating in an extremist community” and “financing extremist activities,” but what term of imprisonment he was assigned remained unknown as of time of writing, due to the poor quality of the video broadcast of the court session.
The Anti-Corruption Foundation was legally registered in Russia prior to Aleksei Navalny’s imprisonment. Its arbitrary designation as an “extremist” organization provided grounds for the subsequent prosecution of Navalny and his associates under extremism-related charges.
Amnesty International has previously raised concerns about how the Russian authorities have held Navalny in a “punishment cell” for purported disciplinary violations, his lack of proper medical assistance, and his deteriorating health condition. The organization concluded that his treatment in the colony amounts to torture or other ill-treatment.
Top Photo: Aleksei Navalny in the improvised court room of the IK-6, a penal colony, with his co-defendant Daniel Kholodny. Melekhovo, Vladimir Oblast, Russia, 4 August 2023 (Photo credit: SOTA Vision)