New Trial of Russia’s Jailed Opposition Leader Navalny Begins

by -141 Views

A new trial of Aleksei A. Navalny, Russia’s jailed opposition leader, began on Monday, with several extremism charges potentially adding decades to the prison sentences that he is already serving.

Although the charges were filed in a Moscow district court, the trial is being held about 150 miles east of the capital in the maximum security penal colony where Mr. Navalny has been held since 2021.

Journalists monitoring proceedings from another room were able to watch the start of the hearing via video feed, with Mr. Navalny barely visible or audible, according to a reporter for the Mediazona news outlet. But that feed was later cut after prosecutors complained about unspecified “security concerns” facing participants in the trial.

The new charges from Basmanny District Court include inciting and financing extremism, as well as “rehabilitating Nazism.” Mr. Navalny previously said that he had hardly been given time to study the materials filed in the case, included in some 200 volumes or nearly 4,000 pages. All the cases against him are politically motivated, he and his supporters have said.

If Mr. Navalny is convicted — and acquittals are extremely rare in Russian courts, especially against opposition figures — the case could add another 30 years to his jail term. He has already been sentenced to nine years in prison for various charges including parole violations, fraud and contempt of court.

A witty, charismatic figure who has lacerated the Kremlin elite with his corruption investigations, Mr. Navalny, 47, has been able to mobilize people across the country to demonstrate against the government, making him a rare political force in Russia.

Standing trial with Mr. Navalny is Daniel Kholodny, a former technical director of Mr. Navalny’s YouTube channel, who faces charges of participating in and financing extremist activity.

At least 15 activists who worked with Mr. Navalny are facing similar charges, according to his spokeswoman, Kira Yarmysh. Many of them have fled into exile.

Last week, two of his former associates were given lengthy jail terms in the first sentencing of Navalny activists since the Russian government labeled his grass-roots anticorruption group an “extremist organization” in 2021. Lilia Chanysheva, the head of Mr. Navalny’s office in the central Bashkortostan region, was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison. Her former colleague, Rustem Mulyukov, received two and a half years on similar charges.

Mr. Navalny was arrested in 2021 after returning to Russia from Germany, where he recovered from a near-fatal poisoning that has been widely blamed on the Kremlin. The documentary film “Navalny,” which won an Academy Award this year, implicated several agents from the Russian state security service, the FSB, in the attack.

The Russian government has denied any involvement in Mr. Navalny’s poisoning.

Mr. Navalny’s parents, Anatoly and Lyudmila, attempted to attend the start of the trial in person but left the penal colony after the hearing was closed. They have not been allowed to see Mr. Navalny for more than a year, the Navalny Organization said in a Twitter post. It included a clip of his father getting into a car as he left, saying, “No shame, no conscience, no honor.”


No More Posts Available.

No more pages to load.