Russia: 19-year jail sentence against Navalny is 'sinister act of political vengeance'

Aleksei Navalny in the improvised court room of the IK-6 penal colony, with his co-defendant Daniel Kholodny © SOTA Vision

Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny is already serving a long jail sentence on politically-motivated charges 

His abusive treatment at the hands of the prison authorities amounts to torture 

‘This new sentence against Aleksei Navalny is little more than a stealthily-imposed life sentence’ - Marie Struthers

Responding to 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, Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia Director, said: 

“This new sentence against Aleksei Navalny 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.

“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.” 

Charges included ‘extremism’ and ‘rehabilitating the Nazi ideology’

Earlier this afternoon, the Moscow City Court sentenced Navalny to 19 years in a penal colony on charges including financing and inciting “extremism”, and “rehabilitating the Nazi ideology”. The charges 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. The foundation was legally registered in Russia prior to Navalny’s imprisonment. Its arbitrary designation as an “extremist” organisation provided grounds for the subsequent prosecution of Navalny and his associates under extremism-related charges. 

The trial took place at IK-6, a penal colony in Melekhovo in Vladimir Oblast, where Navalny is currently serving a nine-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 for supposed “security reasons”. 

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 given is unclear due to the poor quality of the video broadcast of the court session. 

Treatment amounting to torture 

Amnesty has previously raised concerns about how the Russian authorities have held Navalny in a “punishment cell” for purported disciplinary violations, failed to provide proper medical assistance and allowed his health to deteriorate. Amnesty has concluded that his abusive treatment at the hands of the prison authorities amounts to torture or other ill-treatment. 

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