Moscow, Feb 15 (EFE).- A new court case against jailed Russian dissident Alexei Navalny on Tuesday began at a prison colony outside Moscow, where he is being held.
This time around Navalny is facing charges of fraud, and, if found guilty, he will see his two-and-a-half-year prison sentence extended by 10 years.
Several journalists were banned from covering the closed-door trial and were asked by police officers to leave the vicinity.
“Alexei Navalny was detained under politically-motivated charges and should never have been imprisoned in the first place,” Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, said.
“A closed-door trial without public access only makes one more suspicious about new human rights violations the Russian authorities are trying to hide.”
Russia’s Investigative Committee opened a criminal case against the Kremlin critic in December 2020, accusing him of embezzling almost 4 million euros from NGOs he had controlled on personal needs.
Navalny is also accused of insulting a Russian judge during a trial last year when he was accused of defaming a World War II veteran.
His new trial takes place on the same day as German chancellor Olaf Scholz visits the Eurasian country in a bid to de-escalate tensions raised by a build-up of Russian military along Ukraine’s border.
The 45-year-old has been sentenced to 3.5 years in prison for fraud and money laundering offenses in 2020. However, he is to serve only 2.5 years as he spent 10 months under house arrest.
The imprisonment of the opposition leader, who almost died after he was poisoned during a flight to Serbia in August 2020, sparked massive protests across the country, during which thousands of people were detained.
Navalny accuses Russian President Vladimir Putin of having ordered the FSB domestic intelligence service to assassinate him.EFE