'dubious new charges'
Alexei Navalny, the prominent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, is facing even more time behind bars after being convicted on charges the United States called "dubious."
A Russian court on Tuesday found the the opposition leader guilty on fraud charges, CNN and Axios report. He was accused of stealing from the Anti-Corruption Foundation, and the judge claimed in court he "committed fraud, i.e. the theft of someone else's property by deception."
Navalny was already sentenced to 2.5 years in prison for alleged parole violations. He has said the charges were fabricated, and they came after Navalny blamed Putin directly for a plot to poison him in 2020.
In February, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he was "troubled" by the "dubious new charges" against Navalny.
"Navalny was already issued a politically motivated sentence last year when he returned to Russia after recovering abroad because Russian government operatives poisoned him with a nerve agent," Blinken said. "[Navalny] 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. Russian authorities should release Aleksey Navalny and end their harassment and prosecution of his supporters."
Even while on trial for these fraud charges, Navalny continued speaking out against Putin and Russia's invasion of Ukraine. During a court hearing in February, he said 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." In March, he urged Russians to "take to the streets and fight for peace," tweeting, "Wherever you are, in Russia, Belarus, or on the other side of the planet, go to the main square of your city every weekday and at 2 p.m. on weekends and holidays."
According to Axios, prosecutors are seeking to jail Navalny for 13 years.