MELEKHOVO: Jailed Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny had an extra 19 years added to his jail term on Friday in a criminal case that he and his supporters said had been trumped up to keep him behind bars and out of politics for even longer.

Navalny, 47, President Vladimir Putin’s fiercest domestic critic, is already serving sentences totalling eleven and a half years on fraud and other charges that he says are also bogus. His political movement has been outlawed and declared “extremist”.

A court at his IK-6 penal colony in Melekhovo, about 235km east of Moscow, on Friday brought to a close his trial on six separate charges, including inciting and financing extremist activity and creating an extremist organisation.

The audio feed from the court, where the trial had been held behind closed doors, was so poor that it was practically impossible to make out what the judge was saying.

US, EU condemn sentencing

Journalists were not let into the courtroom, but able to watch proceedings on CCTV from a special media room nearby, although the feed was cut almost as soon as the sentence was pronounced.

Navalny’s team said the judge had added 19 years to his existing terms. State prosecutors had asked for 20.

‘Unacceptable’

The European Union condemned a Russian court sentencing jailed opposition leader said, “The latest verdict in yet another sham trial against Navalny is unacceptable. This arbitrary conviction is the response to his courage to speak critically against the Kremlin’s regime,” European Council President Charles Michel posted online.

The United States calling it “an unjust conclusion to an unjust trial.” “The United States condemns a Russian court’s further sentencing and conviction of opposition politician and anti-corruption campaigner Navalny,” the US State Department said.

Published in Dawn, Aug 5th, 2023

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