in a judgment of rare severity, the opponent sent to prison for nine years

Alexei Navalny during a demonstration in Moscow, February 29, 2020.

At the end of a tailor-made trial carried out at a run, Russian justice rendered, on Tuesday March 22, a verdict of extreme severity and brutality against political opponent Alexei Navalny. Convicted of having embezzled 2.7 million rubles (23,600 euros at the current price), the 45-year-old opponent will have to serve a nine-year prison sentence – from which the year he has just died must be deducted. ‘carry out.

In addition to this conviction for “fraud”, Judge Margarita Kotova found Alexeï Navalny guilty of“contempt of court” during one of the many trials that accompanied his return to Russia, in January 2021, six months after a poisoning that nearly killed him.

Read the editorial: The Navalny affair, a turning point in Russian history

Alexei Navalny will not serve these additional eight years in the IK-2 prison in Pokrov where he is being held and where the court, quite unusually, had moved. At the request of the prosecution, he should be transferred to a prison called “severe diet”, much further from Moscow and where the conditions of detention are harsher. The visiting rooms, which are an opportunity for him to transmit messages then published on social networks, should also be drastically reduced.

Exceptional regime

The opponent lives, wherever he is, under an informal exceptional regime. A very thorough investigation by the Internet channel Dojd, which has since been closed, showed that he was the victim of constant harassment from his fellow prisoners, even in the toilets or during the night, on the orders of the administration. prison.

The charge of fraud which earned him this new conviction was launched in December 2020, when he was preparing to return to Russia. The Investigation Committee accuses him of the theft of 356 million rubles (2.5 million euros) donated by sympathizers to his political structures, before they were declared illegal and closed.

Read the story: Article reserved for our subscribers From poisoning to suffocation: a year of total war against Camp Navalny

However, justice has so far contented itself with a trial limited to four complaints from donors, representing 2.7 million rubles. Even for these modest amounts, the prosecution has not really demonstrated the reality of the fraud. During a brief press conference at the start of the trial on February 16, prosecutor Nadezhda Tikhonova had the greatest difficulty in explaining where the money had gone: “Shops, bars, restaurants, hairdressers…”, she had launched, hesitantly. The Inquiry Committee, for its part, had referred to various “assets and real estate”, but without ever giving details.

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