Navalny To Face Another Trial Inside Penal Colony Next Week

Jailed Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny will face a new trial next week inside the penal colony where he is being held, a move that could see as many as 10 more years tacked on to his prison time.

Navalny's press secretary Kira Yarmysh tweeted on February 8 that Moscow's Lefortovo district court's judges will travel to the region of Vladimir, some 200 kilometers east of Moscow, to try the outspoken Kremlin critic in Correctional Colony No. 2 on charges of embezzlement from his now defunct and banned Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) and for contempt of a Moscow court.

The court had said earlier that the trial will be held on February 15.

Navalny's lawyer Olga Mikhailova said that the decision to try her client inside the penal colony will "seriously affect" his right to defend himself in court.

"The colony is a restricted area and it is absolutely banned to bring telephones, computers, and other gadgets onto its territory. Therefore, I do not understand how the trial will proceed," Mikhailova said.

Navalny has been accused of appropriating for his own personal use more than $4.7 million in donations that were given to his organizations. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

He also faces up to six months in prison for a contempt of court charge brought about during one of his hearings last year.

Navalny has rejected the charges, calling them politically motivated.

The Kremlin critic was arrested in January last year upon his return from Germany where he was recovering from a poison attack that almost killed him.

Within weeks he was handed a 2 1/2-year prison sentence for violating the terms of an earlier parole. His conviction is widely regarded as a trumped-up, politically motivated case.

Navalny has blamed Putin for his poisoning with a Novichok-style chemical substance. The Kremlin has denied any role in the poisoning, which along with his arrest sparked widespread condemnation and sanctions from the West.

With reporting by TASS and Interfax