Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny appeared in a Russian court today for a new trial. The political prisoner has been held since early 2021 and is supposed to serve another 9 years, officially for fraud and contempt of court. In the new state, this punishment can be extended for decades.
Navalny’s retrial is part of the intensifying crackdown on dissent since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Most of the main opposition leaders have been arrested or fled. Earlier this year, close associates suggested that Navalny, who has lost a lot of weight, may be slowly being poisoned in the criminal camp where he is imprisoned.
Navalny is suspected in the new case related to the financing of extremist activities, incitement and “rehabilitation of Nazi ideology”. During the hearing, he denied the allegations and questioned the judge’s independence.
Last month, the opposition leader said he had received 3,828 pages outlining crimes he allegedly committed while in prison. He says he is not allowed to read it and calls the accusations “ridiculous”. He tweeted sarcastically, “Although it is clear from the books that I am a sophisticated and persistent criminal, it is impossible to discover exactly what I am accused of.”
The trial officially began on June 6, but the hearing took place behind closed doors. Today’s hearing will be open to the public, though journalists will not be allowed in, according to Navalny’s team. Journalists can watch via video link, although the audio quality is very poor, according to Reuters news agency.