NEW YORK, March 23. /TASS/. Russian blogger Alexey Navalny has committed an economic crime and must bear the punishment for that, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said.
In an interview to CNN, aired on Tuesday, Peskov was asked whether Navalny’s prison sentence should be viewed as an indication that the government is afraid of him.
"Navalny is a prisoner. He had his first sentence, now he’s got his second one. And his blame has been proven by the prosecutor’s office. He is blamed for fraud, so it’s purely economical crime," the Kremlin spokesman replied.
"He was collecting money through his foundation from regular citizens of Russia and also from abroad, and he was spending part of that money for his personal purposes. This is a fraud in our country, and he was supposed to be punished. And no one is afraid of him. If a person is a criminal, he should be in prison. This is the same thing that is happening in the United States, in European countries," he said.
On Tuesday, Moscow’s Lefortovo Court sentenced Alexey Navalny to 9 years in a security penal colony after he was found guilty of large-scale fraud and contempt of court. The judge took his previous convictions into account when choosing the punishment. The verdict is yet to enter legal force, and the defense team is set to appeal it.
Navalny, twice sentenced to probation, was put on a wanted list for repeatedly violating his probation over his suspended sentence in the Yves Rocher case. He was detained upon his return from Germany at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport on January 17, 2021. On February 2, a Moscow court sentenced him to an actual prison term.