Apr 26, 2023 - World

Putin critic Navalny says he could face life in prison

Alexei Navalny is seen on a screen via a video link from his penal colony before a hearing over the extremism criminal case against him

Alexei Navalny is seen on a screen via a video link from his penal colony before a hearing at the Basmanny district court in Moscow on April 26. Photo: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty Images

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny said Wednesday that he could face life in prison on new charges that Russian authorities have leveled against him.

Why it matters: Navalny, one of Russian President Vladimir Putin's most prominent critics, is already serving combined prison sentences of more than 11 years.

Driving the news: Navalny appeared in a Moscow court via video link on Wednesday in relation to the extremism charges, Reuters reported.

  • "They made absurd accusations that threaten me with 30 years in prison," Navalny said in a statement to the court, shared in a Twitter thread by his supporters.
  • Navalny added that an investigator had informed him that he could also face a military court trial in a separate case alleging that he committed terrorist attacks from prison.
  • "I'm facing 30 years in this case, probably a life sentence in the next one," he added.

State of play: During the hearing at Moscow’s Basmanny District Court, Navalny asked for more time to study the case files related to the case, AP reported.

  • The judge ruled that Navalny and his team would have until May 5 to familiarize themselves with the case, his spokesperson, Kira Yarmysh, tweeted.
  • The judge also moved to restrict public access to the hearing shortly after it started, per AP.
  • "The attempt to close the process is not just an attempt to limit my acquaintance with the case, it is an attempt to make sure that no one knows about it. I am categorically against it," Navalny said of the decision to hold the hearing behind closed doors.

Zoom out: Russia has intensified its crackdown on dissent since the start of the war in Ukraine last year.

Go deeper