The wife of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny lashed out at Russian authorities Monday, on the eve of a new trial that could extend his sentence by over a decade.
Navalny, President Vladimir Putin’s most vocal domestic critic, was jailed last February for two and a half years on old fraud charges after surviving a poisoning attack that he and the West blame on the Kremlin.
On Tuesday, a new hearing has been scheduled at his penal colony outside Moscow on additional fraud and contempt of court charges against Navalny.
“Listen you, cowards and scoundrels! I demand that I am allowed to attend my husband’s trial,” Yuliya Navalnaya, 45, said on Instagram.
Alexei and Yuliya have been married for more than 20 years and have two children together.
Navalnaya said the new case is “so pathetic they are afraid to hold the trial in Moscow.”
“My husband is an honest man” Navalnaya said. “And they are keeping him in prison because he is not afraid of this government.”
The fraud case against Navalny began in December 2020, while the 45-year-old was recovering in Germany after narrowly surviving a nerve agent poisoning.
Investigators accuse Navalny of stealing for personal use more than $4.7 million in donations to his political organizations. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
Navalny also faces up to six months in prison for contempt of court during one of his hearings last year.
Navalny’s poisoning and arrest sparked widespread condemnation abroad as well as sanctions from Western capitals.
After his arrest, Navalny’s political organizations across the country were declared “extremist” and shuttered, while many key aides fled Russia fearing prosecution.
The fresh trial will be held in his penal colony in the town of Pokrov outside the capital.