A Russian judge on Tuesday found jailed opponent Alexei Navalny guilty of fraud, in a case that could send him to prison for another 13 years.
“Navalny committed a scam, that is, the appropriation of other people’s property through deception and abuse of trust,” said Judge Margarita Kótova, quoted by the Interfax agency, when reading the conviction in a hearing held in the prison where the opponent is serving a sentence.
In addition to the 13-year prison sentence, the prosecution requested that Navalny, also charged with “contempt of court,” be fined 1.2 million rubles (about $12,000).
“Navalny disrespected the court by insulting a female judge,” Kotova said.
The reading of the sentence until the announcement of the sentence could take several hours. The prosecution had requested 13 years in prison for fraud and offence against a magistrate.
Russia’s most famous opponent, 45, has been on trial since mid-February in the same prison compound 100 km east of Moscow, where he is being held for a cause he considers political.
Russian investigators accuse the opponent of having diverted, together with his collaborators, several million rubles of donations given to his anti-corruption organization.
Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Fund (FBK, for its acronym in Russian), which fights against illicit enrichment among senior Russian officials, was outlawed in the country in June 2021 when the Justice considered its activity as “extremist”.
Since February 2021, Navalny, considered one of the most critical voices of the Kremlin, has been serving a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence for another case of alleged fraud dating back to 2014.
In 2020, the opponent spent several months in treatment in Germany after surviving poisoning by a nerve agent, for which he blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“I maintain that Putin is behind the events and I have no other versions of what happened,” the opponent told the German weekly “Der Spiegel” after being discharged in Berlin.
The government in Russia has embarked on a repressive spiral against all voices critical of the Kremlin such as NGOs, media or political dissidents.
This control was tightened after the Russian military intervention in Ukraine, which has led to the blocking in Russia of social networks such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and numerous national and foreign media.