Prisoned Navalny vows to continue fighting the Kremlin as the campaign to free him begins

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny is seen on screen via a video link during his trial to review his claims against the authorities of a penal colony where he received sentence after being found guilty of violating the amnesty

By Andrew Osborn

LONDON (Reuters) – Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny on Tuesday used the two-year anniversary of his detention to bolster his promise of continued resistance against the Kremlin, as his family and allies launched a campaign to free him.

Navalny, 46, was arrested exactly two years ago when he returned to Russia from Germany, where he was treated for poisoning with a deadly Soviet-era nerve agent in what he and some Western nations say are an assassination attempt by the Russian state. The Kremlin denies any involvement.

“Our miserable, exhausted motherland needs to be saved. It has been looted, wounded, dragged into a war of aggression and turned into a prison run by the most dishonest and liars. “, Navalny wrote on Twitter through his lawyers.

“Any opposition to this gang – even if only symbolic in my current limited capacity – is important. I will not surrender my country to them and I believe that the darkness will eventually disappear.”

Navalny is the most popular of the few remaining opposition voices in Russia, having gained a following thanks to repeated investigations that aim to show that the ruling class has made a fortune. lavishly for themselves at the expense of the state.

The Kremlin is forced to deny in 2021 that Putin himself is the owner of a luxury palace on the Black Sea, as Navalny alleged in a video that has 125 million views on YouTube. Putin rarely mentions Navalny, and never by name.

The activist turned lawyer was sentenced to a total of 11 and a half years in prison in two separate fraud cases that he said were fabricated to silence him, and his anti-corruption organization was banned from operating. act as an extremist organization.

His daughter Dasha Navalnaya appeared in a video clip on Tuesday to launch a campaign to free her father, who she says has been held in solitary confinement multiple times and unfairly in prison for his outcry Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Navalnaya said: “Of course the real reason my father was in the punishment room was his anti-war statements. And now they’re torturing him and stripping him of all contact with the outside world. to silence him.”

“But my father is not afraid and will not stop fighting. My father is an innocent man and deserves to be free.”

Russia’s federal prison service, FSIN, has defended Navalny’s conditions in the past, while authorities say his detention is legal.

The campaign for his release was designed to garner support in Russia, while publicizing his fate and seeking financial support abroad.

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