Alexei Navalny
Alexei NavalnyReuters

A Russian court on Friday convicted imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny on charges of extremism and sentenced him to 19 years in prison, The Associated Press reported, citing Navalny’s spokesperson and Russian news agencies.

Navalny is already serving a nine-year term on a variety of charges that he says were politically motivated.

The new charges related to the activities of Navalny’s anti-corruption foundation and statements by his top associates. It was his fifth criminal conviction and the third and longest prison term handed to him.

It was not immediately clear whether he would serve this new term concurrently with his current sentence on charges of fraud and contempt of court.

The prosecution had demanded a 20-year prison sentence, and Navalny said beforehand that he expected to receive a lengthy term.

Navalny, one of Russian President Vladimir Putin's most prominent critics, was arrested in January of 2021 for alleged parole violations after returning from Germany, where he had been recovering from being poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent.

He was later sentenced by a Russian court to a three-and-a-half-year sentence, though his lawyer said he would serve only two years and eight months in jail because of time he has already spent under house arrest.

In March of 2021, Navalny launched a hunger strike to protest the authorities’ failure to provide proper treatment for his back and leg pains. He subsequently ended the hunger strike on the advice of his doctors.

In June of that year, a Moscow court outlawed the organizations founded by Navalny by labeling them extremist.

Navalny appeared in the courtroom on Friday wearing prison garb and looking gaunt, but with a defiant smile on his face. As the judge read out the verdict, the politician stood alongside his lawyers and his co-defendant with his arms crossed, listening with a serious expression on his face.

It took the judge less than 10 minutes to announce the verdict and the sentence, something that in Russia usually takes hours and even days. The hearing was broadcast to reporters in a separate room, but the judge’s speech was barely audible.

Navalny’s spokesperson, Kira Yarmysh, confirmed the verdict on social media, and Russian state news agencies RIA Novosti and Tass ran direct quotes from the verdict.

Navalny was ordered to serve the new prison term in a “special regime” penal colony, a term that refers to the Russian prisons with the highest level of security and the harshest inmate restrictions.

By law, Navalny has 10 days to appeal the verdict, and if he does, it will not take effect until the appeal is adjudicated.

(Israel National News' North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Israel National News articles, however, is Israeli time.)