In Russia, a former employee of Putin opponent Alexei Navalny has been sentenced to nine years in prison for involvement in an “extremist community”. This is Vadim Ostanin, who headed the office of the imprisoned opposition politician in the Siberian city of Barnaul, the Navalny team said. Ostanin was also found guilty of involvement in a group whose activities involve violence against citizens. Without exception, he did “legal political work,” Navalny’s team wrote on the short message service Telegram.
Just last month, Navalny activist Lilia Tschanyschewa was sentenced to seven and a half years in a prison camp on charges of extremism. Navalny recently announced a new campaign against President Vladimir Putin and the war in Ukraine.
Cell with rats and ankle-deep water
Ostanin was arrested in December 2021 and held in Moscow before being transferred to Barnaul in western Siberia’s Altai Krai, where he stood trial. In a letter published by Navalny’s team, he described how he had been pressured into making a confession, which he had refused. Upon his arrival in Barnaul from Moscow, he was put without explanation in a solitary cell about six square meters in a basement with a window covered in debris. About a week later, the cell was flooded with ankle-deep water. There were rats, ants and spiders in the cell.
For his part, Navalny has been behind bars for more than two years. The 47-year-old has already been sentenced to a total of eleven and a half years in a penal colony. Navalny dismisses the allegations as fictitious. They want to silence him. Human rights groups and Western governments consider Navalny a political prisoner. The leadership in Moscow denies this. Last week, the public prosecutor’s office had demanded 20 more years in prison for Nawlany in a new criminal case, among other things, because of allegations of extremism.
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