How deeply does the Kremlin fear Alexey Navalny? As the new verdict and sentence against him show – very deeply.
On August 4, a Russian court sentenced President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent critic and Russia’s foremost anti-corruption campaigner to an additional 19 years in prison on extremism charges. Navalny, who had predicted he would receive an additional long and “Stalinist” sentence so that the authorities can instill fear among the people, was already serving prison sentences of more than eleven years.
Yet Navalny remains undaunted. In a social media post after his sentence was announced, he urged his fellow Russians not to lose the will to resist.
The United States condemned the trial, the verdict, and the additional sentence. State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement, “This is an unjust conclusion to an unjust trial.”
Navalny has long been a target in Putin’s Russia. As Spokesperson Miller noted, “For years, the Kremlin attempted to silence Navalny and prevent his calls for transparency and accountability from reaching the Russian people.”
Navalny was harassed by the authorities for his anti-corruption campaigning and political activism for over a decade. In 2020, the Russian government attempted to assassinate him with the chemical agent Novichok. After recovering in Germany, Navalny bravely returned to Russia where he was promptly and shamelessly imprisoned on politically motivated charges.
Spokesperson Miller pointed out that Navalny’s latest trial was conducted in secret and his lawyers’ access to purported evidence was limited - illustrating once again both the baselessness of the Russian authorities’ case and the lack of due process for those who speak up against the regime.
“Meanwhile, Russian authorities have repeatedly sent Navalny to solitary confinement, infringed on his access to counsel, and denied him medical care,” said Spokesperson Miller.
“The United States strongly condemns Russia’s continued detention of Navalny, [pro-democracy activist] Vladimir Kara-Murza, and the more than 500 other designated political prisoners Russia holds. We will continue to follow their cases closely and advocate for the release of all unjustly detained persons. We once again join Mr. Navalny’s family, colleagues, and supporters around the world in calling for his immediate release, and an end to the continued repression of independent voices in Russia.”