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Oppositionist Chanisheva

Photo: Navalny Ufa / Twitter

The Russian opposition is facing further reprisals. With Liliya Chanysheva, who was head of the regional staff in Ufa for the well-known Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, another government critic must now be imprisoned.

According to consistent reports, Chanisheva was sentenced to seven years and six months in prison by a court in the city of Ufa for founding an "extremist organization." According to the BBC, the public prosecutor's office had demanded twelve years in prison. According to the report, another activist was also sentenced to 2.5 years in prison.

The Russian judiciary has been taking massive action against Navalny and his supporters for years. In August 2021, Navalny's anti-corruption foundation FBK, his regional offices, as well as the Foundation for the Protection of Civil Rights were placed on a list of banned organizations.

Navalny's comrade-in-arms Leonid Volkov had already announced the dissolution of the regional staffs from exile. Numerous employees of the organizations left the country.

Chanisheva stayed – and was arrested in the winter of 2021. At that time, she had already been accused of founding an extremist association.

Navalny ally speaks of "another hostage"

Navalny's ally Lyubov Sobol, who left Russia in 2021, called the verdict against Chanisheva politically motivated. President Vladimir Putin has "another hostage in a penal colony," Sobol said.

Navalny, probably the most prominent opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin, is currently serving an eleven-and-a-half-year prison sentence in a penal colony. He is likely to face another charge of "extremism," which could drag on his detention even further.

Human rights organizations and Western governments see the verdicts against Navalny and his supporters as clearly politically motivated. The Kremlin denies this.

Navalny was poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok during a trip to Siberia in the summer of 2020. The oppositionist accuses the Russian domestic intelligence service FSB of being behind the poisoning. In December 2020, SPIEGEL, together with Bellingcat and other partners, published an elaborate investigation. At least eight agents of the Russian secret service FSB were apparently involved in the poisoning of Navalny. They probably persecuted him for years. The Kremlin rejects the allegations. (Read the full story here.)