Russian prosecutors on Tuesday called for jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny to serve 13 years in prison on new fraud charges.
Navalny, President Vladimir Putin’s most vocal domestic critic, was jailed last year after surviving a poison attack he blames on the Kremlin.
“I request that Navalny be sentenced to a term of 13 years and a subsequent two years of probation,” prosecutor Nadezhda Tikhonova was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.
The prosecutor also requested “two years of restricted freedom” for Navalny and that he pay a fine of 1.2 million rubles ($10,600 or 9,700 euros).
In a trial held inside a prison colony outside Moscow where Navalny is serving a two-and-a-half-year sentence, Navalny is facing embezzlement and contempt of court charges.
It was not immediately clear if the 13 years include the sentence he is currently serving.
His corruption charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years, while contempt of court is punishable by up to six months.
A key Navalny aide and former head of his regional offices, Leonid Volkov, said that Russia is seeking to keep Navalny jailed for life.
“He was sentenced to life from the very start. So long as Putin is still in the Kremlin,” Volkov said on Twitter.
Navalny’s spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said his sentence depends on “how long Putin is in power”.
Calls To Protest
“Then we will do everything so that he doesn’t stay in power long,” Yarmysh said.
Investigators accuse Navalny of stealing for personal use several million dollars’ worth of donations that were given to his political organisations.
Before he was jailed, Navalny was Russia’s main opposition leader and his team frequently published investigations into the wealth of Russia’s elites that garnered millions of views on YouTube.
Navalny’s poisoning in 2020 with a military-grade nerve agent and arrest on his return from rehabilitation in Germany last year sparked widespread condemnation abroad as well as sanctions from Western capitals.
After his arrest, Navalny’s political organisations across the country were declared “extremist” and shut down, while many key aides fled Russia fearing prosecution.
Russia has also ramped up its pressure on independent media and NGOs with many declared foreign agents or shut down under fear of prosecution.
A string of closures followed after Russia passed a new law introducing up to 15 years in jail for “fake news” about what Russia calls its military operation in Ukraine.
In an effort to further control the information available to domestic audience about the Ukraine conflict, Russia this month restricted access to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and has blocked the websites of several independent news outlets.
On Instagram, Navalny has denounced Russia’s incursion into Ukraine and called on his supporters to protest despite the high likelihood of fines and arrest.
Over the past two weeks, close to 15,000 people have been detained at Ukraine demonstrations across Russia, according to independent monitor OVD-Info.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)