RUSSIA- A new trial has been opened for Alexei Navalny, often referred to as the leader of the Russian opposition. The new proceedings began in the penal colony where Navalny is already serving a nine-year sentence for his previous crimes. There is no doubt that it will end with an even harsher sentence, perhaps comparable to that handed down in April against Vladimir Kara-Murza, another opposition leader, convicted of “treason” and sentenced to 25 years in prison for the crime, despite Navalny claiming he could receive up to 30 years.
Navalny is alleged to be guilty of seven separate criminal offenses, some of which include establishing and funding an “extremist community”, engaging minors in unlawful acts, and even rehabilitating Nazism. After Yevgeny Prigozhin’s uprising, it’s easy to see why his trial took precedence over other concerns at this point. However, the chaos that unfolded during this weekend’s ‘march on Moscow’ showed that Vladimir Putin is incapable of predicting his own fate.
If Prigozhin has established himself as one of the alternatives to the current government for the supporters of war, Navalny has for a very long time been one of the liberal opponents of the state. Even though I am the editor of a Russian media that reports on political affairs, I cannot count the number of criminal charges that Alexei Navalny has been charged with so far. Even Navalny might not be able to remember all the legal entanglements he’s been involved in throughout his career, at least not without consulting Wikipedia.
But right now the Russian authorities are not even trying to prove anything to the people. While allegations of fraud and embezzlement were once leveled against Navalny, it is very evident that the investigations against him today are linked to his political activity. The current trial is taking place entirely behind closed doors and the proceedings send a very clear message: Navalny is an opponent of the Russian government.