22 Mar 2022 16:08

Court sentences Navalny to 9 years in high-security penitentiary

POKROV, Vladimir region. March 22 (Interfax) - Moscow's Lefortovsky District Court has found opposition activist Alexei Navalny guilty of fraud and contempt of court and sentenced him to nine years in a high-security penitentiary, an Interfax correspondent reported. 

"In all, Navalny shall be sentenced to nine years in a high-security penitentiary," Judge Margarita Kotova said in handing down the sentence on Tuesday.

Navalny has also been fined 1.2 million rubles.

The court found Navalny guilty of four counts of massive fraud committed as part of an organized group and contempt of court.

The sentence has not yet taken legal effect and may be appealed.

In their turn, Navalny's defense team said that his sentence would be appealed.

"Naturally, we will appeal the sentence," Navalny's lawyer Olga Mikhailova told journalists.

In handing down the sentence, the judge said she took into consideration Navalny's personal background, his health status, and the nature and public danger of the crimes he committed.

Navalny took the court's ruling calmly.

A high-security penitentiary differs from a general-security penitentiary primarily in terms of the conditions in which convicts are held. In particular, convicts are subjected to tighter and more severe limits on meetings with relatives, the amount of parcels and letters they can receive, the amount of money they can spend from their personal accounts, the duration of daily walks in open air, among others.  

According to the bill of indictment, Navalny established a network of associates, including Leonid Volkov, Roman Rubanov and others, who raised donations from the general public for operating the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK, designated as extremist and banned in Russia), the Fund for the Protection of Citizens' Rights (FZPG, designated as extremist and banned in Russia), and the Navalny Staffs (designated as extremist and banned in Russia), and for the 2018 presidential race.

The prosecutors said that, instead of the statutory activity of his NGOs, the donations were spent by Navalny on extremism and personal needs.

They also said that Navalny was raising funds for his presidential campaign despite being convicted and deprived of passive election rights, "thus misleading donors about his real objectives."

According to investigators, Navalny and his accomplices stole and spent at their own discretion the donations from four citizens totaling 2,693,503 rubles.

In addition, Navalny was found guilty of contempt of court.

According to the investigators, the opposition activist "neglected generally accepted norms, and seeking to humiliate [a judge] and impede normal legal proceedings," insulted justice of the peace Vera Akimova, who was hearing his case of slandering World War II veteran Ignat Artyomenko in 2021.

The bill of indictment also says that Navalny insulted prosecutor Yekaterina Frolova in the case of slandering the veteran and the veteran's grandson Igor Kolesnikov.

As follows from the court filings, Navalny also insulted Prosecutor Yekaterina Frolova, who acted as counsel for the prosecution at his trial in the Artyomenko slander case, as well as the veteran's grandson, Igor Kolesnikov.

Navalny pleaded not guilty and said that the activities he was accused of were actually normal political work.

The Lefortovsky District Court started hearing the case against Navalny at the penitentiary in Pokrov on February 15, 2022.

In 2021, Navalny was also prosecuted for setting up an extremist society and an organization violating the people's personality and rights.

He is now serving three and a half years in a penitentiary, consistent with the sentence handed down by Moscow's Zamoskvoretsky District Court in 2014 under the so-called Yves Rocher case.

At the beginning of 2021, as soon as Navalny returned from Germany after his treatment for allegedly having been poisoned, the suspended sentence in the Yves Rocher case was replaced with real jail time at the demand of the Federal Penitentiary Service due to repeat violations of the restrictions and obligations placed on Navalny. 

In January 2022, Navalny was placed on the list of organizations and private individuals known as being affiliated with terrorist and extremist activities.