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Putin Critic Navalny Says He’s Being Stonewalled From Accessing Any Legal Records

Forbes 9/20/2022 Nicholas Reimann, Forbes Staff

Topline

Imprisoned Russian activist Alexei Navalny tweeted Tuesday that Russian authorities are now prohibiting his legal team from accessing any records in his criminal case, with the revelation coming just over a week after the State Department denounced Russia for violating Navalny's rights by interfering with his defense.

Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny gestures during an appeal hearing at a court in Moscow on March 30, 2017. (KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images) AFP via Getty Images © Provided by Forbes Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny gestures during an appeal hearing at a court in Moscow on March 30, 2017. (KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images) AFP via Getty Images

Key Facts

Navalny said administrators at his penal colony "have taken away all the papers from my lawyer" and "will decide what is relevant to the criminal case and what is not."

Navalny earlier this month said officials were limiting his access to documents, but his lawyers were still able to look at records.

He has also said authorities are cutting down how much time he is allowed to spend with his lawyers.

The State Department denounced the actions in a September 9 statement, saying the Russian government is engaging in "arbitrary interference with [Alexei] Navalny’s rights," noting he has also repeatedly faced time in solitary confinement for minor alleged violations.

Crucial Quote

"Just when I thought I'd hit rock bottom, they knocked from down below and said: 'We now forbid you to even LISTEN to what is written in any documents,'" Navalny said. "I feel like my next post will be about being brought to the meeting with my lawyer tied up with my mouth taped shut."

Key Background

Navalny was sentenced earlier this year to nine years in a "strict regime penal colony" after he was found guilty of parole violations relating to a 2014 fraud conviction—a ruling widely decried as a political sham. Prior to the sentence, Navalny became well-known as perhaps the most outspoken Russian critic of President Vladimir Putin, especially after falling victim to a failed poisoning attempt in 2020. Putin has repeatedly denied any involvement with the attack. Navalny's notoriety again grew in 2021 after the release of his film, "Putin's Palace," which documented the construction of a massive residence along the Black Sea, allegedly to serve as a home for Putin. He has also blasted Russia's move to invade Ukraine on several occasions.

Tangent

Russia has significantly cracked down on criticism of the government since its invasion of Ukraine. Marina Ovsyannikova, a Russian journalist, faces up to 10 years in prison for displaying an anti-war message during a TV news broadcast shortly after the invasion.

Further Reading

Russian Journalist Who Protested Ukraine War On TV Placed On House Arrest (Forbes)

Russian Opposition Leader Alexei Navalny Detained After Returning To Russia (Forbes)

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