A court in Russia adds 2 more years to the prison term of Navalny’s associate

 A Russian court added an additional two years to the 7 1/2-year prison sentence of a former associate of the late opposition leader Alexei Navalny on Tuesday, marking the latest move in the Kremlin’s ongoing crackdown on dissent. Lilia Chanysheva, who previously led Navalny’s office in the Bashkortostan region of Russia, was found guilty of extremism charges. Bashkortostan’s Supreme Court extended her sentence to a total of 9 1/2 years, according to her lawyer Ramil Gizatullin, who shared the update on the messaging app Telegram. The hearing was conducted behind closed doors.

The Kremlin’s suppression of opposition activists, independent journalists, and government critics has escalated following Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine over two years ago. Hundreds of individuals have faced criminal charges for participating in protests or expressing dissent against the war in Ukraine, leading to fines or short-term imprisonment for thousands.

Chanysheva’s conviction last summer included charges of inciting extremism, forming an extremist group, and establishing an organization that infringes upon rights. These accusations stemmed from a previous court ruling in the same year that labeled Navalny’s Foundation for Fighting Corruption and its regional branches as extremist entities. Chanysheva, who was detained in November 2021, is one among many targeted in the Kremlin’s crackdown on dissent.

Navalny’s death in a remote Arctic prison in February amplified international scrutiny of Russia’s treatment of dissenters. As Russia’s prominent opposition figure and a vocal critic of Putin, Navalny had been imprisoned since January 2021 under what many viewed as politically motivated extremism charges, resulting in a 19-year prison term.

Opposition figures and Western leaders have squarely blamed the Kremlin for Navalny’s demise, an accusation that Moscow officials vehemently deny. Kira Yarmysh, Navalny’s former spokeswoman, condemned the extension of Chanysheva’s sentence as “horrifying,” criticizing authorities for targeting a courageous woman who fought for Russia’s future and describing them as “monsters.”

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