(Update 2: Adds Navalny’s reaction, the brief detention of his lawyers and the AI’s statement)
Moscow, Mar 22 (EFE).- Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was Tuesday ordered to serve nine years at a maximum security prison and fined 1.2 million rubles ($12,000) after a judge found him guilty of large-scale embezzlement.
The 45-year-old anti-corruption campaigner was read the sentence following a hearing at a prison colony outside Moscow, where he is already serving a 2.5-year sentence on a previous fraud charge, Navalny’s team said in a statement.
In his first reaction to the ruling, Navalny thanked people for supporting him, and encouraged them to continue fighting against the Russian regime.
“I am very grateful to everyone for their support,” he said on social media. “And, guys, I want to say: the best support for me and other political prisoners is not sympathy and kind words, but actions.”
It is “any activity against the deceitful and thievish Putin’s regime. Any opposition to these war criminals,” he added.
Earlier in the day, judge Margarita Kotova deemed Navalny to have “committed fraud, that is the appropriation of other people’s property through deception and abuse of trust.”
The prosecution had requested a 13-year prison sentence for the fraud charge and another for contempt of court.
Following the trial, the dissident’s attorneys were briefly detained.
Navalny and his associates were accused of siphoning off millions in donations to his anti-corruption campaign group (FBK), which sought to shine a light on the illicit riches of senior Russian officials.
The FBK was branded an “extremist” organization and prohibited in 2021.
Navalny has since February last year been serving a formerly suspended 2.5-year sentence dating to 2014.
The suspension of the sentence was lifted when the Russian judiciary accused him of breaching bail conditions while he was in Germany receiving treatment for a Novichok nerve agent poison attempt that almost killed him.
Navalny has claimed the poisoning was carried out by Russian secret service agents with the blessing of president Vladimir Putin.
The opposition figure is Putin’s most vociferous public critic in Russia and from prison has urged Russians to protest against the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
Amnesty International slammed the ruling as a human rights violation.
“Navalny faces nine years in prison for calling out the Russian elite for corruption and abuse of power,” Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia Marie Struthers said in a statement.
“This sentence is predictable but nonetheless shocking. The world must not overlook this sentence and its significance amid the horrific human rights violations we have seen as a result of Russian aggression against Ukraine,” she added. EFE