(TargetLiberty.org) – A jailed Russian politician claims he’s been redesignated as a terrorist, putting him in an even stricter status inside the country’s infamously brutal prison system. Is this a sign of a crackdown on opponents of President Putin?
"I was afraid that I would be obligated to kiss Putin’s portrait or to memorize quotations from Medvedev, but this hasn’t happened," Aleksei Navalny quipped. "Just over my bunk there is a little sign saying I am a terrorist."https://t.co/tuhGkfVLhO
— Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (@RFERL) October 11, 2021
On January 17, Alexei Navalny returned to his home country. While making his way through the airport, he was immediately arrested. His crime? Allegedly breaking probation restrictions. In February, authorities activated a suspended sentence imposed on him in 2014. He’s now serving two and a half years in prison for the 7-year-old embezzlement conviction.
Navalny is a controversial figure in Russia, best known for trying to unify opposition parties in an attempt to force Vladimir Putin out of office. He’s a lawyer and human rights activist, and has been fiercely critical of Putin for over 20 years. He’s also released several documentaries accusing administration figures of corruption. Navalny claims the embezzlement charges were brought to derail his political career. He was also the victim of an August 2020 poisoning that used Novichok nerve agent, a favorite tool of Russian government assassins.
Despite his incarceration, Navalny remains very popular among the nearly 40% of Russians who don’t support Putin. Many see him as the only hope of uniting the fractured, quarrelsome opposition parties into a political force that can rein in Putin’s power. The Russian government is in no hurry to set him free, though – on Monday, he was reportedly redesignated as an extremist and terrorist prisoner. Could this be setting the stage for new charges and another 10 years in prison?
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