Russian court finds Kremlin critic Navalny guilty on new embezzlement charges

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A Russian court on Tuesday found jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny guilty on embezzlement charges that could see his prison sentence significantly extended.

“Navalny committed fraud -- the theft of property by an organized group,” judge Margarita Kotova said, according to an AFP reporter present at the trial.

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Navalny, President Vladimir Putin’s most vocal domestic critic, was jailed last year on old fraud charges after surviving a poison attack with Novichok nerve agent that he blames on the Kremlin.

The trial on Tuesday concerned additional embezzlement and contempt of court charges and Navalny had been tried at the prison colony outside Moscow where he is already serving a two-and-a-half-year sentence.

Navalny appeared in the makeshift court wearing his black prison uniform, with journalists watching via a video link.

He listened closely as judge Kotova read out the verdict, sometimes smiling, an AFP reporter said.

Investigators accused Navalny of stealing for personal use several million dollars’ worth of donations that were given to his political organizations.

Navalny’s poisoning in 2020 with Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent, and arrest on his return from rehabilitation in Germany last year, sparked widespread condemnation abroad, as well as sanctions from Western capitals.

After his arrest, Navalny’s political organizations across the country were declared “extremist” and shut down, while many key aides fled Russia fearing prosecution.

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