Who is Russian dissident Alexei Navalny and why is he in jail?

Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny (Pavel Golovkin/AP)
Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny (Pavel Golovkin/AP)

A new trial on allegations of extremism might result in a longer sentence for jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

For violating his parole, committing fraud and disrespecting the court, Mr Navalny is already serving a nine-year sentence.

Mr Navalny is facing multiple charges including funding extremist activity and setting up an extremist network. If Mr Navalny loses this case it could result in an additional 30 years behind bars.

His new trial begins on Monday June 19 in the penal colony where he is being held about 150 miles east of Moscow.

Who is Alexei Navalny and why is he in jail?

Who is Alexei Navalny?

The 47-year-old has long been the most visible representative of Russia's opposition to President Vladimir Putin and has spent more than 10 years exposing corruption at the very centre of Russian power.

He is a activist who appeared to be the only opposition figure in Russia capable of organising big crowds to participate in anti-government demonstrations.

Navalny, a former lawyer, published blogs that he claimed showed widespread corruption among the Russian elite. He claims that “crooks and thieves" run Russia.

In the 2000s, he marched in Russian nationalist demonstrations. His dismissal from the liberal Yabloko opposition party in 2007 was brought on by calls for immigration limits and condemnation of what some saw as his excessively nationalist sentiments.

Navalny was detained upon his return from Germany in 2021 after recovering there after being poisoned the year before and attributing it to the Kremlin. The Russian government denied being involved.

Navalny's allegations of widespread corruption and Putin's wealth have been rejected by the Kremlin. The majority of Navalny's senior allies have left Russia and live in Europe.

He is recognised by Amnesty International as a prisoner of conscience, and was awarded the Sakharov Prize for his work on human rights.

Several Norwegian members of parliament put Navalny forward for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize.

Navalny is of Ukrainian and Russian ancestry. His father comes from Zalissia, a former village that was relocated as a result of the Chernobyl catastrophe in Ivankiv Raion, Kyiv oblast, Ukraine, and which was once close to the Belarusian border.

Navalny spent his childhood summers in Ukraine with his grandmother, where he became proficient in the Ukrainian language.

Why is Alexei Navalny in jail?

Navalny was arrested as soon as he arrived in Russia in January 2021 on suspicion of breaking parole restrictions when he was hospitalised in Germany as a result of his 2014 sentence.

His suspended sentence was changed to a prison term of at least two and a half years in February 2021 and his organisations, including the FBK, were labelled as extremist and destroyed.

Navalny's appeal was denied, and in June he was sent to a high-security jail after being found guilty of embezzlement and contempt of court in a second trial that Amnesty International deemed to be a fraud in March 2022.