Russia: Kremlin opponent Alexei Navalny sentenced to another 9 years in prison

Alexey Navalny | Mitya Aleshkovsky | Flickr

Last week, the best-known critic of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, Alexei Navalny was sentenced to another nine years in prison and a fine of 10,400 EUR. Although the sentence was less severe than the 13 years imprisonment demanded, it is still the harshest sentence handed down against Navalny so far.

For more than a year, the opposition politician has already been serving the prison sentence of a previous verdict for fraud totaling 2.5 years in penal colony number two in Pokrov, a small town near Moscow. This is also where the trial was held, which was not allowed to be followed live by journalists, nor was it paid attention to by the Russian state media. He was charged with « fraud on a particularly large scale » and « contempt of court » and found guilty on all counts. The prison sentence is to be served in a penal colony with a « strict regime, » which severely restricts the prisoners’ contact with the outside world. So far, the verdict is not yet final. Navalny’s lawyers announced their intention to appeal the verdict.

The Kremlin opponent’s team calls the criminal proceedings a pure « show trial », which is solely intended to muzzle Navalny. By means of peaceful political activism, he had openly criticized the Russian government and denounced it for corruption and abuse of power. Most recently, he had called on the Russian people to protest the invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops. Especially against the backdrop of the Ukraine war, Vladimir Putin therefore increasingly sees the Russian opposition leader as a danger.

After the assassination attempt on Navalny in 2020 failed and he returned to Russia, the Kremlin critic was almost immediately arrested and sentenced. The Anti-Corruption Foundation and the Citizens’ Rights Protection Foundation, which he founded, were classified as « extremist » and banned in September 2021, after which many of his allies had to flee into exile and now fear a sentence similar to that of Navalny. The repressive measures against Navalny himself have not yet come to an end with last week’s verdict: In September 2021, further criminal proceedings were initiated against him and his comrades-in-arms on the charge of founding an « extremist association ».

Not only Navalny’s team but also numerous political experts speculate that the seemingly countless proceedings are aimed at ensuring that Navalny does not leave prison during Putin’s lifetime and see this as a further step towards the development of a totalitarian state. Green Party MEP Viola von Cramon, for example, states:

« We see in quite a few places that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is very afraid that there might be a figure in political life who becomes dangerous for him. […] The point is that he [Navalny] will not get out of prison during Putin’s lifetime. »

Amnesty International also strongly condemns the trial. An analysis of the case published on March 11, 2022, found that proceedings were politically motivated and the conviction was based on an arbitrary application of laws.

Despite the shocking verdict, no protests are expected, as freedom of assembly has continued to be massively restricted since the invasion of Ukraine.

By Alicia


Amnesty International, 22/03/2022. Russland: Oppositionsführer Alexej Nawalny zu weiteren neun Jahren Haft verurteilt. URL:]nawalny-erneute-verurteilung [25/03/2022].

Amnesty International, 23/03/2022. Russia: Opposition Leader Aleksei Navalny sentenced to nine years in prison in cynical deprivation of his human rights. URL: [25/03/2022].

Deutsche Welle, 22/03/2022. Nawalny-Urteil: « Übergang zum totalitären Staat ». URL: [25/03/2022].

Tagesschau, 22/03/2022. Kremlgegner. Nawalny erneut schuldig gesprochen. URL: [25/03/2022].

Der Spiegel, 22/03/2022. Russisches Gericht verurteilt Nawalny zu weiteren neun Jahren Haft. URL: [25/03/2022].

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