Russian court gives Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny another 9 years in prison


March 22 (UPI) -- A Russian court on Tuesday sentenced opposition leader and high-profile Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny to nine more years in prison on charges of fraud and contempt of court that critics say are intended to quash dissent.

The court's ruling means that Navalny, who was already in prison for a parole violation technicality, could now be behind bars for a total of 12 years, his legal team said.

Prosecutors charged Navalny with stealing more than $4.7 million in donations that were given to his political organizations for his own personal use.

The court's sentence says that Navalny must spend the time in a maximum security prison.

"The whole world knows that this trial has nothing to do with the law," Ruslan Shaveddinov, a Navalny supporter said, according to The Washington Post.

"We see that Alexei will be held in prison for many more years, they hope to do that. We can't turn a blind eye to this as we see that everything is headed toward a very sad end of our country."

The judge on Tuesday also fined Navalny about $11,000. Navalny can appeal the court's decision.

Navalny had been serving a 2½-year sentence for violating a 2014 suspended sentence for embezzlement while recovering from poisoning in Germany in 2020. Critics said the embezzlement conviction was also politically motivated.

The Russian government is suspected in his poisoning, which medical officials said was carried out with the Soviet-era nerve agent novichok.

After he fell ill on a flight, Navalny spent 32 days in the hospital, most of them in the intensive care unit. He was later taken to Germany for treatment, where doctors identified the novichok.

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