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Russian prosecutors asked a court on Tuesday, March 15, to sentence jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny to an additional 13 years on fraud and contempt of court charges and to move him to a maximum security prison, Navalny’s spokeswoman said.
Navalny is already serving a two-and-a-half year sentence at a prison camp east of Moscow for parole violations related to charges he says were trumped up to thwart his political ambitions.
“We’ve been saying that (Russian President Vladimir) Putin wants to keep Navalny in prison forever. The upcoming sentence has nothing to do with the law,” the spokeswoman, Kira Yarmysh, wrote on Twitter.
According to Yarmysh, the prosecutors had asked for the transfer to a maximum security prison, arguing that Navalny had committed crimes while being kept in the prison camp, thus becoming a repeat offender.
“Thirteen years for a fabricated case, for fake ‘victims’, for witnesses who had testified under pressure and then publicly denounced their testimonies in court,” she wrote, adding that there would still be at least another court session on the case before the sentence is announced.
Last week, Russian authorities put Yarmysh on a wanted list and are now seeking jail time for her. She left Russia last year after a court imposed 18 months of restrictions on her freedom of movement for breaching COVID-19 safety rules.
Russian authorities have cracked down hard on the opposition, and many of Navalny’s most prominent allies have left Russia rather than face restrictions or jail at home.
Navalny – Putin’s most prominent opponent – was jailed last year when he returned to Russia after receiving medical treatment in Germany following a poison attack with a nerve agent during a visit to Siberia in 2020.
Navalny blamed authorities for the attack, a charge they have denied.
Navalny, who is able to publish social media posts through his lawyers and allies, has repeatedly called for anti-war protests since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24. – Rappler.com