| 13 July 2024, Saturday |

Alexei Navalny: Russian opposition leader’s jail term extended to 19 years

Alexei Navalny, the imprisoned Russian opposition leader, has urged followers not to lose hope after his sentence was increased to 19 years.

Mr Navalny was convicted of establishing and supporting an extremist organization. He disputes the allegations.

He had previously been sentenced to nine years in prison for parole breaches, fraud, and contempt of court. The accusations are commonly perceived as politically motivated.

The trial took place at a distant correctional colony where he has been detained since 2021.

The Kremlin’s most vociferous opponent will serve his sentence in a “special regime colony,” as requested by Russian official prosecutors.

Even more restrictive than a high security colony, such prisons are normally reserved for dangerous criminals, re-offenders and those with life imprisonment.

There he is likely to face greater isolation, with further restrictions on communications with the outside world.

He could also receive fewer visitors than he is used to, including his family and defence team, and may face longer periods of solitary confinement.

Navalny was tried at the high-security jail where he is presently detained, with the hearings closed to the press and public.

When the court found Mr Navalny guilty and sentenced him, it was unclear to the journalists watching and hearing how long the new prison term would be.

Later, in a social media message for him, Mr Navalny verified the statistic.

“I spent nineteen years in a colony run by a special regime.” The figure has no significance. I am completely aware that, like many political prisoners, my sentence is life in jail. “Life is measured by either my or the regime’s lifespan.”

“Putin is trying to frighten as many Alexei supporters as he can”, Mr Navalny’s press secretary Kira Yarmysh said of his sentencing.