Jailed opposition politician Alexey Navalny said Russian authorities filed new charges against him for promoting “terrorism and extremism”, potentially leading to a prison term of 30 years – double his original sentence.
Navalny, the most prominent domestic critic of President Vladimir Putin, is already serving more than 11 years for fraud, contempt of court and parole violations, all of which he rejects as trumped-up charges intended to silence him.
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“I received an official notification that a new criminal case has been initiated against me for propagating extremism, calling for terrorism, financing extremist activity and rehabilitating Nazism,” Navalny said on Thursday.
He said his lawyers estimated he could now face a cumulative sentence of 30 years. There was no immediate official confirmation of the new case from Russia’s Investigative Committee.
Navalny’s spokeswoman, Kira Yarmysh, said the new case related to a YouTube channel called, Popular Politics, which was launched by his allies after he had already been in prison for a year.
The 46-year-old was arrested in January 2021 upon returning from Germany, where he recovered from a poison attack that almost killed him.
In 2020, he was poisoned with a nerve agent during a campaigning trip in Siberia, according to analysis conducted by several European medical institutions. The Kremlin denied involvement.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Kremlin has accelerated its campaign to quash and silence domestic opposition. Navalny has spoken out against the war, attacking Putin during a court appearance and calling the invasion “stupid” and “built on lies”.
Earlier this month, his organisation said it would reopen its offices to fight against the Kremlin’s troop mobilisation.
“I am a genius of the underworld. Professor Moriarty is no match for me,” he said sarcastically in a Twitter post, comparing himself to the nemesis of Sherlock Holmes.
“You all thought I had been isolated in prison for two years, but it turns out I was actively committing crimes. Luckily, the Investigative Committee was vigilant and didn’t miss a thing.”
Navalny, who rose to prominence during mass anti-Putin protests in 2011, built a huge social media operation exposing the corruption of government officials. He used witty and slickly produced videos that drew huge audiences.