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Russian Prosecutors Seek 13 Year Additional Sentence for Dissident Navalny 


FILE - Alexei Navalny, lawyers Olga Mikhailova and Vadim Kobzev are seen on a screen via a video link during a court hearing at the IK-2 male correctional facility, in the town of Pokrov in Vladimir Region, Russia, Feb. 15, 2022.

Russian prosecutors are seeking an additional 13-year sentence for high profile Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, a spokeswoman for Navalny said Tuesday.

"We've been saying that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin wants to keep Navalny in prison forever. The upcoming sentence has nothing to do with the law," the spokeswoman, Kira Yarmysh, wrote on Twitter.

Navalny, 45, is currently serving a two-and-a-half-year sentence in a prison camp east of Moscow on a 2014 embezzlement conviction. He was arrested in January when he returned to Russia from Germany where he was recovering from what he said was a nerve agent attack by the Kremlin. Russian officials deny his allegation.

Yarmysh says prosecutors also want Navalny transferred to a maximum-security prison, alleging he has committed crimes at the prison camp and is thus a repeat offender.

"Thirteen years for a fabricated case, for fake 'victims,' for witnesses who had testified under pressure and then publicly denounced their testimonies in court," she wrote.

She said there would be another court hearing before any further sentencing is announced.

Last summer, officials announced Navalny would face a new charge that a non-profit organization he created encouraged Russians to break the law.

The charge is punishable by up to three years in prison.

The committee says Navalny’s Foundation for Fighting Corruption group encouraged Russians to “perform unlawful acts” by encouraging Russians to participate in unauthorized protests in January.

Authorities in Russia announced last week that Yarmysh had violated COVID-19 safety protocols and restricted her movement. They are also seeking jail time.

Navalny is still able to communicate outside the prison camp, but his supporters and other opposition members have faced government crackdowns.

In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, he has called for anti-war protests.

“I am urging everyone to take to the streets and fight for peace,” he said. “If, to prevent war, we need to fill up the jails and police vans, we will fill up the jails and police vans.”

Last year, Navalny’s foundation was outlawed as “extremist,” and authorities blocked tens of websites run by his network, charging them with distributing propaganda. Two of Navalny’s top allies, Ivan Zhdanov and Leonid Volkov, are facing criminal investigations.

Some information in this report comes from Reuters.

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