Updated Aug 4, 2023 - World

Putin critic Navalny receives new 19-year sentence

Alexei Navalny appears on a screen in Moscow City Court via a video link from his prison colony on May 24. Photo: Alexander Nemenov/AFP via Getty Images

A Russian court on Friday sentenced imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny to 19 more years in prison after convicting him of several extremism-related charges that the Putin critic says are politically motivated, AP reported.

The big picture: Navalny, a fierce foe of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was already serving more than 11 years in prison on an array of trumped-up charges.

  • A Russian court in 2021 outlawed several organizations founded by Navalny, labeling them "extremist."
  • The new sentence stems from charges which his allies argue retroactively criminalize his anti-corruption foundation's activities since its creation in 2011, per AP.
  • Navalny predicted in a social media post Thursday that he would receive a long, "Stalinist" prison sentence.

What they're saying: "I perfectly understand that, like many political prisoners, I am sitting on a life sentence. Where life is measured by the term of my life or the term of life of this regime," Navalny wrote on X Friday after the sentencing.

  • European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell wrote on X Friday that "this verdict is politically motivated & demonstrates the continued instrumentalisation of the Russian legal system."
  • "EU calls on Russia for his immediate & unconditional release," he added.

Between the lines: Navalny said Thursday that the term of the new sentence "doesn't really matter" because he is also facing separate terrorism charges that could bring another 10-year sentence.

  • Navalny added Friday that the new large prison sentence is intended to leave Russian citizens "frightened and deprived of the will to resist."
  • Navalny warned in April that the new extremism charges could mean he will face life in prison.

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

  • Russia detained American journalist Evan Gershkovich on espionage charges in late March — the first time Russia detained a U.S. journalist on spying charges since the Cold War. He remains in detention.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details.

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