Alexei Navalny looks thinner than ever as he appears in court to deny ‘absurd’ charges of ‘extremism’ that could keep him in a Russian prison for life
- Navalny, who was arrested in 2021, appears in court dressed in prison clothes
- Media and former lawyer’s family forced to follow proceedings remotely
- The jailed Russian opposition leader, 47, is an arch nemesis of Vladimir Putin
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has appeared in court looking thinner than ever on charges that could keep him behind bars for decades.
The new trial is taking place at a maximum security prison in Melekhovo, 150 miles east of Moscow, where Navalny is serving a nine-year sentence for fraud and contempt of court.
The jailed Russian opposition leader, 47, and arch nemesis of Vladimir Putin, exposed official corruption and organised major anti-Kremlin protests.
He was arrested in January 2021 upon returning to Moscow after recuperating in Germany from nerve agent poisoning that he blamed on the Kremlin.
Navalny has said that the new extremism charges, which he rejected as ‘absurd,’ could keep him in prison for another 30 years.
Alexei Navalny appears in a court on Monday on charges he has described as ‘absurd’
He said an investigator told him that he would also face a separate military court trial on terrorism charges that could potentially carry a life sentence.
The new trial, which opened on Monday, comes as Russian authorities are conducting a sweeping crackdown on dissent amid the fighting in Ukraine, which Navalny has harshly criticised.
The Moscow City Court, which opened the hearing at Navalny’s IK-6 prison, did not allow the media into the room, with members of the press forced to watch the proceedings via video feed from a separate building.
Navalny’s parents were also denied access to the courtroom and followed the hearing remotely.
Navalny’s parents, and the media, were forced to follow the legal proceedings remotely
Navalny, dressed in his prison clothes, looked gaunt but spoke emphatically and gestured energetically as the trial got underway.
The new charges against him relate to the activities of his anti-corruption foundation and statements by his top associates.
His allies said the charges retroactively criminalise all the activities of the 47-year-old’s foundation since its creation in 2011.
Navalny, an arch nemesis of Vladimir Putin, above, claims Russian authorities are failing to provide him with proper medical assistance and has voiced concerns about his health
One of Navalny’s associates, Daniel Kholodny, was relocated from a different prison to face trial alongside him.
While imprisoned,Navalny has spent months in a tiny one-person cell, also called a ‘punishment cell,’ for purported disciplinary violations such as an alleged failure to properly button his prison robe, properly introduce himself to a guard or to wash his face at a specified time.
His associates and supporters have accused prison authorities of failing to provide him with proper medical assistance and voiced concern about his failing health.