MELEKHOVO, Russia — Imprisoned Russian opposition chief Alexei Navalny went on trial Monday on new costs of extremism that might maintain him behind bars for many years.
The trial opened at a most safety penal colony in Melekhovo, 250 kilometers (150 miles) east of Moscow, the place Navalny, 47, is serving a nine-year sentence for fraud and contempt of courtroom — costs he says are politically motivated.
Navalny, who uncovered official corruption and arranged main anti-Kremlin protests, was arrested in January 2021 upon returning to Moscow after recuperating in Germany from nerve agent poisoning that he blamed on the Kremlin.
Navalny, sporting his jail garb, regarded gaunt on the session however spoke emphatically concerning the weak spot of the state’s case and gestured energetically.
Navalny has stated the brand new extremism costs, which he rejected as “absurd,” might maintain him in jail for an additional 30 years. He stated an investigator informed him that he would additionally face a separate navy trial on terrorism costs that might probably carry a life sentence.
Monday’s trial got here amid a sweeping Russian crackdown on dissent amid the preventing in Ukraine, which Navalny has harshly criticized.
The Moscow Metropolis Courtroom, which opened the listening to at Penal Colony No. 6, didn’t enable reporters within the courtroom they usually watched the proceedings by way of video feed from a separate constructing. Navalny’s dad and mom additionally had been denied entry to the courtroom and adopted the listening to remotely.
Navalny and his legal professionals urged the decide to carry an open trial, arguing that authorities are wanting to suppress particulars of the proceedings to cowl up the weak spot of the case.
“The investigators, the prosecutors and the authorities generally don’t need the general public to know concerning the trial,” Navalny stated.
Prosecutor Nadezhda Tikhonova requested the decide to conduct the trial behind closed doorways, citing safety considerations.
The feed from the session to media room was then minimize, but it surely wasn’t instantly clear if it was as a result of the decide determined to shut the trial or if it was for an additional cause.
The brand new costs relate to the actions of Navalny’s anti-corruption basis and statements by his prime associates. His allies stated the fees retroactively criminalize all of the actions of Navalny’s basis since its creation in 2011.
Certainly one of Navalny’s associates, Daniel Kholodny, was relocated from a unique jail to face trial alongside him.
Navalny has spent months in a tiny one-person cell, additionally referred to as a “punishment cell,” for purported disciplinary violations resembling an alleged failure to correctly button his jail garments, correctly introduce himself to a guard or to clean his face at a specified time.
Navalny’s associates and supporters have accused jail authorities of failing to offer him with correct medical help and voiced concern about his well being.
The German authorities criticized the trial and reiterated its name for Navalny’s instant launch.
“In case of of the opposition politician Alexei Navalny, the Russian authorities maintain searching for new excuses to increase his imprisonment,” authorities spokesman Wolfgang Buechner informed reporters in Berlin.
“The German authorities continues to demand of the Russian authorities that they launch Navalny at once,” he added. “Navalny’s imprisonment is predicated on a politically motivated verdict, because the European Courtroom of Human Rights concluded again in 2017.”
Requested whether or not Germany might present any help to Navalny or observe the trial, Overseas Ministry spokesman Christian Wagner stated German officers had been doing what they might “on the few channels that we’ve got,” however acknowledged it was “very troublesome in the intervening time” given the present state of relations with Russia.
Related Press author Frank Jordans in Berlin contributed.