On Tuesday, a Russian court found jailed Kremlin opponent Alexei Navalny guilty of embezzlement charges, which might result in a considerable extension of his term.
According to an AFP reporter present at the hearing, judge Margarita Kotova declared, “Navalny committed fraud — theft of property by an organized group.”
Navalny, Putin’s most outspoken domestic foe, was imprisoned last year on old fraud allegations after surviving a Novichok nerve agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin.
Navalny was tried at a prison colony south of Moscow on Tuesday for fresh embezzlement and contempt of court accusations, and he is already serving a two-and-a-half-year sentence.
Navalny arrived in the makeshift court wearing his black prison uniform, and journalists were able to see him through video link.
According to an AFP reporter, he listened intently as judge Kotova read out the verdict, occasionally smiling.
Navalny is accused of stealing millions of dollars from his political organizations for personal gain, according to investigators.
Navalny’s poisoning with Novichok, a military-grade nerve toxin, in 2020 and his detention upon his return from rehabilitation in Germany last year drew worldwide outrage and Western capitals’ sanctions.
Navalny’s political organizations were deemed “extreme” and shut down across the country after his incarceration, and several of his top advisers fled Russia for fear of being prosecuted.