Putin critic Navalny speaks out against Ukraine invasion while on trial

Alexei Navalny
(Image credit: ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP via Getty Images)

Alexei Navalny, the jailed critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin who is currently on trial, is speaking out against Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Navalny condemned Russia's attack on Ukraine on Thursday during a court hearing, saying, "The war with Ukraine has been unleashed to cover up the robbery of Russian citizens and divert their attention away from the country's internal problems, from the degradation of its economy," The New York Times reports.

Navalny, who has blamed Putin for poisoning him with a nerve agent in 2020, was sentenced to over two years in prison by a Moscow court in 2021 for alleged parole violations. He's now facing additional fraud charges that according to BBC News could extend his sentence by more than a decade. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said he's "troubled" by these "dubious new charges" against Navalny, noting that he and his associates "are targeted for their work to shine a light on official corruption. This time, he goes to trial in a penal colony, out of public view." Blinken added, "Russian authorities should release Aleksey Navalny and end their harassment and prosecution of his supporters."

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But the threat of an extended prison sentence didn't stop Navalny from speaking out against Putin amid the invasion of Ukraine, which has already left more than 40 people dead. He warned during the court hearing, per the Times, "This war will lead to a vast number of victims, destroyed lives and continued impoverishment of Russian people." Earlier this week, Navalny wrote on Twitter, "To fight for Russia, to save it, means to fight for the removal of Putin and his kleptocrats from power."

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