A Russian court on Friday issued its verdict in a new case against, convicting the politician of promoting “extremism” and extending his time in prison by 19 years, according to Russian state media and his own team.
Navalny, who emerged as the most outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin’s government before he was imprisoned, was alreadyabout 150 miles east of Moscow for parole violations, fraud, and contempt of court.
There was some lingering doubt about the exact duration of the new sentence as the audio feed from the court — the only immediate source of information as journalists were not permitted in the room — was of poor quality. Russia’s judiciary authorities did not immediately confirm the sentence.
Navalny and many outside observers have always considered those charges politically motivated retaliation for his criticism of Putin and the Kremlin’s policies, both foreign and domestic.
In the new trial, Navalny was accused of creating an extremist organization, the Anti-Corruption Foundation. That organization has authored multiple investigations into the riches of the Russian elite. He also founded a network of nearly 40 regional offices that sought to challenge Kremlin-approved local politicians.
Both groups were outlawed as extremist organizations in 2021, a designation that exposed people involved in their operations to criminal prosecution.
Navalny faced a total of seven serious charges in the trial, including participating in and funding extremist activities, creating an NGO that “infringes on the rights of citizens,” involving minors in dangerous acts, and rehabilitating Nazism. He was convicted on all but the last of those charges Friday.
In April, Navalny said a separate proceeding had been launched against him stemming from the extremism case, in which he would stand accused of terrorism and be tried by a military court.
At the time, the politician said he expected the trials to result in life imprisonment.
“The sentence will be a long one,” Navalny said in a statement released by his organization Thursday, before the verdict was announced in the case. “I urge you to think why such a demonstratively huge sentence is necessary. Its main purpose is to intimidate. You, not me. I will even say this: you personally, the one reading these lines.”
The trial was held behind closed doors. Navalny’s parents were denied entry to the court and have not seen their son for over a year.
Daniel Kholodny, who used to work for Navalny’s YouTube channel, was also charged with funding and promoting extremism and was sentenced to prison on Friday, but due to the poor quality audio feed from inside the closed courtroom, there was confusion about how many years he was given.
In a Thursday statement, Navalny said Kholodny was part of his technical production staff, but that investigators had “made him up to be an ‘organizer’ of an extremist community,” and attempted to pressure Kholodny into a deal: freedom in exchange for damning testimony against Navalny and his allies.
Navalny has been put in solitary confinement 17 times at the IK-6 prison, a facility known for its oppressive conditions and violent inmates.
In previous statements, his team described how the prison administration denied him family visits and punished him for transgressions as minor as having an unbuttoned shirt.
Navalny was arrested in January 2021 immediately upon his return from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from a poisoning that he blamed on the Kremlin — a claim Russian officials have always denied.
Shortly after his arrest, a court sentenced him to two-and-a-half years in prison for violating the parole conditions of a 2014 suspended sentence in a fraud case that Navalny insists was politically motivated.
From that point on, the number of, with his allies saying the Kremlin’s goal has always been to keep him locked up for as long as possible.
Following Navalny’s imprisonment, the country’s authorities launched a sweeping crackdown on his associates and supporters. Many have been forced to flee the country, while others have been imprisoned, including the head of his regional office Liliya Chanysheva.