Jailed Kremlin Critic Navalny's New Trial Resumes

By RFE/RL's Russian Service

The trial of jailed Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny has resumed inside a penal colony on new charges of embezzlement -- which he calls politically motivated -- that could see as many as 10 more years tacked on to his prison time.

Moscow's Lefortovo district court resumed the trial on February 21 inside the Correctional Colony No. 2 in the town of Pokrov in the Vladimir region, some 200 kilometers east of Moscow, where the anti-corruption campaigner has spent the last year on a different charge after returning from abroad where he was recovering from a near-fatal poison attack that he blames on the Kremlin.

As the trial resumed, the court allowed Navalny's new lawyer Yevgeny Solomatov get acquainted with the file but did not allow the lawyer to take pictures of its contents, saying that it was illegal to use electronic equipment in penitentiaries.

Journalists were also banned from using any devices to record the trial. They were allowed to follow the process via a video-link from a special room inside the penal colony.

The trial that started on February 15 is looking into the new case against Navalny that was launched in December 2020 on allegations that the 45-year-old lawyer embezzled money from his now defunct and banned Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) and for contempt of a Moscow court.

Investigators say Navalny is accused of taking around $33,770 in donations that were given to his organizations and using them for his own personal use, which the outspoken Kremlin critic and his supporters reject, calling all charges politically motivated.

The charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, while Navalny also faces up to six months in prison for a contempt of court charge brought stemming from one of his hearings last year.

Within weeks of returning from his convalescence in Germany in January 2021, Navalny was handed a 2 1/2-year prison sentence for violating the terms of an earlier parole. His conviction is widely regarded as the result of a trumped-up, politically motivated case.

The Kremlin has denied any role in the poisoning, which along with his arrest sparked widespread condemnation and sanctions from the West.