Russia sentences exiled Navalny ally to eight years

Russia sentences exiled Navalny ally to eight years

MOSCOW (AFP) : A Russian court on Thursday sentenced an ally of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny to eight years prison in absentia for criticizing Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine.

Shortly after Russia launched its military campaign last year, lawmakers made it illegal to criticize the conflict and thousands have been detained for speaking out.

Vladimir Milov, who helped Navalny with his failed 2018 presidential bid, fled the country shortly after the Kremlin labelled the opposition leader’s organizations as “extremist.”

A Moscow court sentenced him to eight years for “spreading fake information about the Russia army” under legislation used to stifle criticism.

Milov dismissed the sentencing in a post on social media, saying: “You won’t get away with your own eight years, comrades.”

Organizations founded by Navalny have been banned in Russia, and in August a Russian court handed the longtime Kremlin critic an unprecedented 19-year prison sentence.

Milov’s sentencing came as Navalny’s team said the politician was being increasingly isolated from any contact with the outside world in prison.

Navalny, who denounces the Kremlin’s Ukraine offensive from behind bars, is due to be moved to an even harsher prison.

Last month, three of his lawyers were arrested, a move he denounced as “illegal.”

The lawyers — Vadim Kobzev, Igor Sergunin and Alexei Liptser — were on Thursday blacklisted by Russia’s financial crimes watchdog for carrying out “extremist activities or terrorism,” effectively blocking their bank accounts.