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Alexei Navalny: Imprisoned Kremlin critic marks one year since returning to Russia

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Alexei Navalny: Imprisoned Kremlin critic marks one year since returning to Russia

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Monday marks a year since Russian authorities arrested prominent government critic Alexei Navalny upon his arrival from Germany, where he was recovering from a poisoning attack he and the West blame on the Kremlin.

He was later sentenced to a prison term of more than two years for violating parole in a financial fraud case on February 2, 2021. He is currently serving his sentence in a penal colony in the Vladimir region of Russia .

His poisoning and arrest drew widespread condemnation abroad as well as sanctions from Western capitals.

Last year the The European Parliament awarded Navalny the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought after being nominated, but not for the Nobel Peace Prize.

On Monday, Navalny said he had “no regrets” about returning to Moscow from Berlin. “I did it, I don’t regret it for a second. And I will continue to do it,” he added in his Instagram post.

“Having served my first year in prison, I want to tell everyone exactly what I shouted to those gathered outside the court when a convoy led me to a police van: don’t be afraid. “

Last year investigators launched a new extremism probe against Navalny which could see the opposition leader spend up to 10 more years in prison.

Navalny’s political organizations have also been branded “extremist” and shut down by staff fearing prosecution.

Almost all of his main allies have since fled the country.

Russia steps up crackdown on dissent

Last month, investigators interviewed several former Navalny regional coordinators, including Ksenia Fadeyeva, who is also a local lawmaker in the Siberian city of Tomsk.

Her allies say she faces up to 12 years in prison for working with an extremist organization.

Meanwhile, days before the anniversary of Navalny’s arrest, Russia has branded two of its key allies “terrorists and extremists”, a government database revealed on Friday.

Leonid Volkov, 41, and Ivan Zhdanov, 33, who both left Russia as authorities cracked down on opposition and dissenting voices, were seen in the database compiled by the Federal Financial Supervisory Service on Friday .

The move places them on equal footing with right-wing nationalist groups and foreign terrorist organizations, including the Taliban and the so-called Islamic State group.

Zhdanov headed Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, which produced hugely popular video investigations accusing authorities of systemic corruption, while Volkov headed Navalny’s network of regional offices.

Zhdanov dismissed the news, telling liberal-leaning Echo Moscow radio station that the designation “won’t affect me or my life or me in any way.”

On Twitter, he wrote that he thought the measure would become more widespread, describing himself and Volkov as “the pioneers of this kind of nonsense”.

The move is the latest in a long and historic crackdown on dissent in Russia that intensified after Navalny’s arrest and imprisonment.

In December, authorities designated dozens of anti-Kremlin rights groups, media outlets, journalists and figures as ‘foreign agents’, and courts ordered the closure of the most prominent rights group of the country, Memorial.

Founded in 1989 by Soviet dissidents, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Andrei Sakharov, the group has chronicled Stalin-era purges and campaigned for the rights of political prisoners, migrants and others. disadvantaged groups.

The decisions were denounced by the United Nations and Western governments, which accused Moscow of stifling free speech.

Alexei Navalny: Imprisoned Kremlin critic marks one year since returning to Russia

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