Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny says investigators have opened an “absurd terrorism” case against him, possibly leading to a further 30 years in jail.
Navalny appeared in a Moscow court via video link on Wednesday as part of an “extremism” case.
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“They have made absurd accusations, according to which I face 30 years in prison,” he said in a statement that his supporters posted on social media.
“I insist that the attempt to close the process is an attempt not just to prevent me from getting acquainted with the case, but it is also an attempt to make sure that no one finds out about it,” he said.
Navalny added that it did not make sense to argue he had committed terrorism while in prison.
The state-owned TASS news agency reported that Russian investigators had also put 11 people on an “international wanted list” in a case linked to Navalny.
Earlier this month, Russian investigators linked the former politician to the death of the popular military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky, who was killed by a bomb in a St Petersburg cafe.
But Navalny’s allies have denied any connection to Tatarsky’s death.
A Nelson Mandela figure
Russian authorities view Navalny and his supporters as “extremists” with links to the CIA intelligence agency of the United States which wants to destabilise Russia.
Many of his supporters, who view the jailed politician as a Nelson Mandela figure, have fled the country.
The former lawyer, who rose to prominence more than 10 years ago by alleging large-scale corruption, is currently serving combined sentences of 11 and a half years for fraud and contempt of court on charges he says were increased to silence him.
Navalny earned admiration from Russia’s opposition for voluntarily returning to Russia in 2021 from Germany, where he had been treated for what tests showed was an attempt to poison him with a nerve agent in Siberia.
The Kremlin has denied trying to kill him.
More recently, Navalny is reportedly suffering from a mystery illness in jail, making him lose 8kg (17.6 pounds) in two weeks.
His spokeswoman, Kira Yarmysh, alleged the weight loss was due to a slow-acting poison that prison doctors had injected him with.
“We do not rule out that at this very time, Alexey Navalny is being slowly poisoned, being killed slowly so that it attracts less attention,” Yarmysh said in a Twitter post.