Imprisoned Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny (file photo)
Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny, marking the second anniversary of his incarceration on charges widely believed to be politically motivated, says he remains hopeful the "thieves" trying to steal the country from its citizens will fail and be dislodged from power.
Navalny posted a statement on his social network accounts on January 17, exactly two years after he was arrested on his arrival from Germany where he was treated for poisoning with what European labs concluded was a Novichok-like Soviet-style nerve agent, saying "our poor Motherland needs to be saved."
"She is robbed, wounded, dragged into an aggressive war [against Ukraine], and turned into a prison led by the most dishonest and deceitful villains. Any stance against this gang, even a symbolic one that is possible for me in my current limited situation, is important," Navalny's post said.
"As I said two years ago, and I am saying now -- Russia is my country...I am not going to give them my country and I believe that the murk will disappear... And there are many of us, for sure, much more than the corrupt judges, lying propagandists, and the Kremlin thieves."
Navalny, who suffered a near-fatal poisoning in August 2020 that he blames on Russian security operatives acting at the behest of President Vladimir Putin, was arrested on January 17, 2021, and later handed a 2 1/2-year prison sentence for violating the terms of an earlier parole during his convalescence abroad. The Kremlin has denied any involvement in Navalny's poisoning.
The original conviction is widely regarded as a trumped-up, politically motivated case.
Then in March last year, Navalny was handed a nine-year prison term on charges of contempt and embezzlement through fraud that he and his supporters have repeatedly rejected as politically motivated.
Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation and his network of regional offices have been designated "extremist" organizations and banned after his arrest.
A day before the anniversary, a group of Russian lawyers demanded an end to the "blatant torture" of the Kremlin critic , who is being held in punitive solitary confinement in a prison in Russia’s Vladimir region.
The appeal, published in the form of a letter on a Telegram channel, joined recent calls by a group of Russian medical professionals for the government to stop “bullying” Navalny, who is feared to be in a state of worsening health.