Russia: Navalny activist sentenced to nine years in prison for “extremism”

(Reuters) – A former official at Alexei Navalny’s local campaign headquarters has been sentenced to nine years in prison for participating in “an extremist association,” the team of Vladimir Putin’s most famous political rival said on Monday.

Vadim Ostanin, who was in charge of Alexei Navalny’s campaign headquarters in Barnaul, Siberia, was also accused of participating in an organization whose activities included “violence against civilians”.

Vadim Ostanin did only “legal political work”, defending the team of Russian dissidents on Telegram.

The activist, arrested in December 2021, was imprisoned in Moscow before being transferred to Barnaul for trial.

In a letter published by the Alexey Navalny team, Vadim Ostanin wrote, “Until my arrival from Moscow to Barnaul, I had no explanation, I was held in solitary confinement in a six square meter individual cell in a basement, the window of which was blocked by rubble.”

He also said, “After a week, the closet was ankle-deep in water. There were rats, ants, and spiders.”

Alexey Navalny, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s best-known rival, is serving eleven and a half years in prison for breach of his judicial control, fraud and contempt of justice, saying the charges are fabricated by those in power to silence him.

Last week, Russian prosecutors asked a court to increase Alexey Navalny’s prison sentence to 20 years.

Last month, Liliya Tchancheva, another close friend of the Russian rival, was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison for “extremism”.

(Reporting by Lucy Papachristou; French edition by Zifan Liu, Editing by Kate Enstringer)

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