A Russian court has rejected Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s appeal against a nine-year prison sentence. The judgment of March 22 remains unchanged and takes effect immediately, a judge said today in Moscow.
This means that Navalny will be transferred to a penal colony with significantly harsher prison conditions. Navalny was sentenced to nine years in prison in March on charges of embezzlement and contempt of court.
Navalny, who was already in prison, took part in the court hearing – behind bars – via video link. Wearing black prisoner’s clothing and a winter jacket, he appeared composed at first and joked about problems with the sound transmission.
He followed the verdict with a grumpy face and did not mince his words when he was allowed to speak one last time at the end of the process: “I despise your court, your system,” he said, the process had “no sense”.
“Obviously I don’t want to be stuck in a cell,” he said. “I’d rather see my kids grow up.” He urged people not to be afraid. Being afraid is a “crime against our future,” he added.
The appeal process began last week, but Navalny asked for the hearing to be postponed by a week so that he could meet his family again before being transferred to another penal colony.
The opposition member has been in prison since January 2021 on other allegations. In March, a court ruled that Navalny had used millions of euros in donations paid to his political organizations for personal purposes.