Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been sentenced to nine years in a maximum security jail.
Navalny first rose to international prominence for his strong political opposition to President Vladimir Putin and his government.
The lawyer and anti-corruption activist has a strong social media presence where he speaks out about the corruption of Russia. He has also organised anti-governmental demonstrations, has run for office in a bid to reform the country and formed the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK).
Today (22 March) at the penal colony in Pokrov, Navalny has been found guilty of fraud and contempt of court.
Navalny first launched the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) in 2011. It was supported by private donations, and its goal was to expose the corruption in Russia's government and to investigate high-ranking officials.
The foundation was later banned after being viewed as extremist.
Navalny was accused of stealing a total of $4.7 million (£3.5 million) in donations made to the organisation and prosecutors tried to have him sentenced to a maximum-security penal colony for 13 years, as per BBC.
Navalny pleaded not guilty and claimed that the case against him was politically motivated, The Guardian reports.
However, Navalny was deemed as having committed 'the theft of property by an organised group' by Judge Margarita Kotova and sentenced to nine years.
Navalny has also been fined 1.2 million roubles ($11,500/£8,600).
He has complained of 'psychological torture' at his current prison in Pokrov, but Financial Times correspondent Max Seddon said the maximum security penal colony Navalny will be moved to will likely be even worse.
In July 2013 and December 2014, Navalny received two suspended sentences for embezzlement.
However, he was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in jail after he broke the bail conditions of his 2014 sentence.
He broke bail during a hospital stay in August 2020 when he was left critically ill after being poisoned with a Novichock nerve agent.
He blamed Putin and his government for the poisoning, however the Kremlin denied any involvement.
Navalny says he was subject to constant psychological torture in his current prison.— max seddon (@maxseddon) March 22, 2022
But the maximum-security facility is likely to be worse: further away from Moscow, far less contact with the outside world, and housed with serious criminals.https://t.co/e9OlZVLSUd
Despite having been in jail for a year already, Navalny has remained outspoken, condemning Putin's invasion of Ukraine.
Supporters of Navalny believe his comments about the invasion have led to him having a more severe sentence.
At his last court hearing, the activist took to Instagram to state: "If the prison term is the price of my human right to say things that need to be said … then they can ask for 113 years. I will not renounce my words or deeds.”
1/10— Alexey Navalny (@navalny) March 22, 2022
9 years of strict regime.
My space flight is taking a bit longer than expected - the ship is caught in a time loop.
It occurred to me that my role in this saga is similar to that guy from Interstellar.
Since his sentencing, Navalny has taken to Twitter to compare his experiences to that of 'the guy from Interstellar,' noting how his 'space flight is taking a bit longer than expected'.
He resolved: "As I said in my 'last word', we are not just continuing the operations of the Anti-Corruption Foundation, we are going to take them to a new level. The ACF will become a global international organisation. And we really need you in it. Come on in.
"In 2013, after hearing my first verdict, I wrote this and now I will repeat it: don't be idle. This toad sitting on an oil pipe will not overthrow itself. I hug and love everyone!"
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