Russia’s main opposition leader and president Vladimir Putin’s main critic Alexei Navalny has been sentenced to an additional nine years in a high security prison after a court found him guilty of fraud.
Navalny is currently already serving a two year eight month sentence after he was arrested upon returning to Moscow from Germany in January last year.
The 45-year-old had been seeking treatment in Berlin for a near-fatal military-grade nerve agent poisoning from a suspected Kremlin attack in August 2020.
In February last year, he was found guilty of violating a suspended sentence for alleged embezzlement and sentenced to 3.5 years in prison, which he had already served 10 months of under house arrest.
On Tuesday Mar. 22, he was found guilty of fraud and sentenced to another nine years in prison and ordered to pay 1.2 million ruble (US$11,500).
Prosecutors said he had embezzled money from supporters of his anti-corruption foundation.
Following the sentencing in a makeshift courtroom at the prison outside of Moscow, where he has been jailed, two of Navalny’s lawyers were detained by police after going out to speak to journalists, the New York Times reported. They were later released.
After the verdict, Navalny shared a tweet referencing the TV show “The Wire,” writing, “9 years. Well, as the characters of my favorite TV series ‘The Wire’ used to say: ‘You only do two days. That’s the day you go in and the day you come out.”
He added that he had a t-shirt with the quote but it was confiscated by prison authorities for being “extremist”.
Despite being in prison, Navalny has been writing letters from jail for his lawyers to post on social media calling on Russians to protest Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
His aides outside Russia have also been calling for protests and publishing videos of their corruption investigations on YouTube.
“It is every person’s duty to fight against this war,” Navalny said in a courtroom speech last week, adding that the war had been started by a “group of crazy old men who don’t understand anything and don’t want to understand anything,” the New York Times reported.