A court in Russia adds 2 more years to the prison term of Navalny's associate

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A court in Russia on Tuesday added two more years to a 7 1/2 year prison term of a former associate of late opposition leader Alexei Navalny, the latest step in the Kremlin's yearslong crackdown on dissent.

Lilia Chanysheva, who used to head Navalny’s office in the Russian region of Bashkortostan, was convicted on extremism charges, and Bashkortostan's Supreme Court extended her sentence to a total of 9 1/2 years, her lawyer Ramil Gizatullin said on the messaging app Telegram.

The hearing took place behind closed doors.

The Kremlin’s crackdown against opposition activists, independent journalists and government critics has intensified after Russia sent troops into Ukraine more than two years ago. Hundreds have faced criminal charges over protests and remarks condemning the war in Ukraine, and thousands have been fined or briefly jailed.

Chanysheva was convicted of calling for extremism, forming an extremist group and founding an organization that violates rights last summer. The charges against Chanysheva, who was arrested in November 2021, stem from a court ruling earlier that year that designated Navalny’s Foundation for Fighting Corruption and his regional offices as extremist organizations.

Navalny himself died in a remote Arctic prison in February. He was Russia’s best-known opposition figure and Putin’s fiercest critic. Navalny had been imprisoned since January 2021 and was serving a 19-year prison term on charges of extremism widely seen as politically motivated.

Opposition figures and Western leaders laid the blame on the Kremlin for his death — something officials in Moscow have vehemently rejected.

Kira Yarmysh, who had been Navalny's spokeswoman, described the extension of Chanysheva's sentence as as “horror.”

“They had imprisoned a brave, honest woman because she fought for Russia's future, and now they decided that they had given her too little time, that they should give her more" time behind bars, Yarmysh said on X, formerly known as Twitter. They are "simply monsters.”