Russian Court Rejects Navalny’s Appeal Against 19-Year Prison Term

A Russian court on Tuesday rejected Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny’s appeal against a decision to imprison him on extremism charges for almost two decades.

On August 4, judges of the Moscow City Court convicted Navalny on extremism charges and sentenced him to 19 years in prison, ruling that his previously handed prison sentences will be served concurrently in Russia’s harshest prison regime. Navalny, his allies, rights groups and Western governments say all charges are politically motivated.

The first appeals court in Moscow upheld the sentence on Tuesday at a hearing held behind closed doors. Only the reading of the verdict was public. Navalny, who has accused the Kremlin of seeking to keep him behind bars for life and to keep Russians from voicing dissent, participated in the proceedings via video link.

The charges against Navalny are widely seen as retribution for his efforts to expose what he describes as the pervasive lawlessness, corruption and repression by President Vladimir Putin and his political system.

Navalny was Russia’s loudest opposition voice over the last decade and galvanized huge anti-government rallies before he was jailed.

The 47-year-old threatened the Kremlin by establishing a network of political offices across the country and a corruption watchdog that brought credible graft allegations against political elites.

He was jailed in 2021 after arriving in Moscow from Germany, where he had been recovering from a poisoning attack he blamed on the Kremlin.

The ruling last month came a year and a half into Russia’s invasion in Ukraine, which brought with it an unprecedented crackdown on dissenting voices. Navalny has repeatedly spoken out against the military campaign.

Navalny, who has complained of a series of health complications — and undertook a weekslong hunger strike — is being held in the IK-6 penal colony, 250 kilometers (155 miles) east of Moscow.

Allies say his health has taken a further hit in recent months, during which he has been in and out of solitary confinement. Ahead of the appeal, prison authorities placed Navalny in a detention cell for the 20th time, his team said.

In August the court also ruled to send Navalny to a “special regime” colony, a maximum-security facility reserved for dangerous criminals that will cut him off from the outside world.

The “special regime” prison is a system in which inmates stay in cells either alone, in pairs or in fours. The cells have additional metal bars on windows and doors, nonstop lighting, and video surveillance. Inmates can request one or two hours of walking outside in specially fenced cubes where there is no direct sunlight.

Special regime inmates are not allowed to communicate with friends or relatives and can have no visits in the first 10 years of their sentences.

Some information came from Agence France-Presse.

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