Russia’s famous opposition leader Alexei Navalny was sentenced to nine years in prison for “fraud” and “contempt of court” on Tuesday, according to AFP journalists present at the hearing.
The judge, Margarita Kotova, added a year and a half of probation and a fine of 1.2 million rubles (€10,000) to his sentence. She found him guilty in a makeshift court inside the maximum-security prison in Pokrov, where Navalny is already serving a 2.5-year sentence for violating parole in poisoning recovery.
The opposition leader is famed for his criticism of the Kremlin and was poisoned in 2020, an attempt on his life that is widely believed to have been the work of Kremlin agents. In a courageous act of defiance, Navalny returned to his home country and has since been imprisoned for over a year. He denounced the charges as politically motivated.
Navalny has been communicating from prison via his lawyers and encouraging the Russian population to protest against the invasion.
9/10 I am very grateful to everyone for their support. And, guys, I want to say: the best support for me and other political prisoners is not sympathy and kind words, but actions. Any activity against the deceitful and thievish Putin's regime. Any opposition to these war criminals— Alexey Navalny (@navalny) March 22, 2022
Navalny’s lawyers were briefly arrested minutes after the court hearing. It appears Olga Mikhailova and Vadim Kobzev were arrested on the grounds of obstructing traffic in front of the prison by speaking with the press.
Within an hour, Kobzev announced on Twitter that he and his colleague had been released.
Нас с Ольгой Михайловой отпустили. И даже любезно довезли обратно до машины. Всем огромное спасибо за поддержку!— Вадим Кобзев (@advokatkobzev) March 22, 2022
Translation tweet: Olga Mikhailova and I were released. They even kindly took us back to the car. Thank you all so much for your support!