A Russian court on Tuesday began a new trial against Russian opponent Alexei Navalnyjailed for a year on fraud charges and now facing new charges that could add ten years to his sentence.
Navalny is the main opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putinand his movement has been repressed by the Russian authorities who ordered his ban and launched legal proceedings against his leadership.
In this new process Navalny – who survived a poisoning attempt in 2020 – He appeared dressed as a prisoner and with his head shaved.
The hearing is held in a prison room on the outskirts of Moscow. where he is serving his sentence, along with his lawyers and surrounded by several guards, an AFP journalist confirmed.
During the process the opponent took advantage of a technical break due to a sound problem to hug his wife Yuliaconfirmed an AFP journalist present in the room.
A process in prison
Navalny, 45, was sentenced to two and a half years in prison in February 2021 in another trial on fraud chargesa trial that the activist called political and rigged.
is currently prisoner in a penal colony in Pokrov, about 100 kilometers east of Moscow. The process that began on Tuesday is taking place in this room, something that was denounced by Navalny’s supporters as a way of limiting the dissemination of the trial.
“I am not guilty yet, but I am presented dressed as a prisoner (…) It is so that if a grandmother sees me on television she thinks that I am already in prison anywayNavalny protested.
“I want to be judged like a zek anyone!”, he added using the expression that designates the prisoners of the Soviet gulag.
In this new process, prosecutors Navalny accused of having embezzled more than 4.7 million dollars in donations the organizations he leads, an accusation that carries a sentence of up to ten years in prison.
In addition, the opponent risks a additional sentence of six years for contempt of court during the process last year.
These two charges will be analyzed in this same trial.
On Tuesday his lawyers They asked that he be allowed to wear his clothes and not in prison uniform and that the hearing be held in a Moscow court.two lawsuits dismissed by Judge Margarita Kotova.
“Cowardice” of the Kremlin
On Monday the activist’s wife, who is his incombustible support, denounced the “cowardice” of the Russian government and described the process as “illegal” and the charges as “dishonest”.
The activist was poisoned in Siberia in mid-2020 and spent several months recovering in Germany.
Navalny blames the Russian president for the poisoningwhich has not yet been investigated in his country, since the authorities claim that there is no evidence and that Germany has not shared the medical tests.
On his return to Russia, the opponent was arrested in January 2021 and tried and convicted of a case for “fraud” dating back to 2014. This sentence generated a wave of criticism and sanctions from Western countries against Moscow.
Navalny was included in an official list of “terrorists and extremists”within the framework of a campaign of repression against dissident voices that also affected his main collaborators, who are exiled.
The Anti-Corruption Fund (FBK), one of the main organizations linked to the opposition, was also placed on this blacklist in 2021. This decision led to its closure and led to the initiation of trials against many of its activists.
Last month several Russian media outlets denounced pressure from the authorities to remove content linked to Navalny.
(With information from AFP)