Jailed Putin foe Alexei Navalny says he’s likely to languish behind bars until 2050 on ‘absurd’ charges
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has made a rare appearance as he faced further extremism and terrorism charges.
The Kremlin’s leading critic, who appeared at the hearing via video-link from prison, said the ‘absurd’ charges could see him in prison until 2050.
He also noted that the terrorism charges implied that he was ‘conducting terror attacks while sitting in prison’.
He told the hearing: ‘They have brought absurd charges against me, according to which I am facing up to 35 years.’
A close ally said investigators were trying to link the terrorism charges against Mr Navalny to a bombing that killed a well-known Russian military blogger earlier this month.
Jailed Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny is seen on a screen via a video link from his penal colony
Mr Navalny, 46, who exposed official corruption and organised massive anti-Kremlin protests, was the victim of a nerve-agent poisoning that he blamed on Putin’s henchmen.
He was arrested in January 2021 after returning to Moscow from Germany, where he had been recuperating.
He initially received a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence for a parole violation.
But last year he was sentenced to a nine-year term for fraud and contempt of court.
He is currently serving time at a maximum security prison 150 miles (250km) east of Moscow.
While imprisoned, Mr Navalny has spent months in a tiny one-person cell, also called a ‘punishment cell’, for purported disciplinary violations such as an alleged failure to properly button his prison robe, properly introduce himself to a guard or to wash his face at a specified time.
Demonstrators hold placards near the residence of Russian Vice-Minister of Defense’s wife Svetlana Ivanova calling for Navalny to be freed
Navalny made the rare appearance as he faced further extremism and terrorism charges
His supporters have accused prison authorities of failing to provide him with proper medical assistance, using blindingly bright light in his cell and placing him next to a mentally unstable person.
Mr Navalny said on Tuesday that he had completed a 15-day stay in the punishment cell and was immediately ordered to spend another 15 days there.
The Russian authorities have ramped up their crackdown on dissent after Mr Putin sent troops into Ukraine under new legislation that has effectively criminalised any public criticism of Moscow’s military action and independent reporting on the conflict.