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Navalny associate Vadim Ostanin sentenced to 9 years in prison for “extremism”

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Vadim Ostanin, the former head of Alexei Navalny's headquarters in Barnaul, has been sentenced to 9 years in a minimum-security prison, according to a report by Navalny's team on Telegram.

The post highlights that Ostanin faced trial for his lawful political activities, as he led Navalny's headquarters in Biysk and later in Barnaul in Russia’s Altai region. He used the platform to expose corrupt officials and assist locals in “making officials do their job.”

Journalist Dmitry Nizovtsev filmed a report about Ostanin in March, when the activist’s trial began.

Prior to sentencing, state prosecutors had requested that Ostanin be handed 11 years in prison.

In December 2021, Ostanin was detained, and a criminal case was initiated against him for his involvement in an “extremist community” and a non-profit group “whose activity involves violence against citizens.” According to Russia’s Investigative Committee, the activist continued to work in Navalny's structures after they were recognized as “extremist.” In March 2023, Ostanin, who was already in pre-trial detention, revealed that his health had worsened due to the conditions in the facility. He also claimed that authorities threatened him with mistreatment if he did not “tell them everything.”

Another Navalny campaigner and the head of his headquarters in Ufa, Liliya Chanysheva, was recently sentenced to seven and a half years in prisom for “extremism.”

Last week, Russian state prosecutors asked a court to sentence Navalny to another 20 years in a penal colony on criminal charges, including “extremism,” in what has become known as the “extremist case.” The second defendant in the case is Daniel Kholodny, former technical director of the Navalny LIVE YouTube channel, who has been in pre-trial detention for over a year. Prosecutors have requested that Kholodny be sentenced to 10 years in a minimum-security penal colony.

As of now, Navalny is already serving an 11.5-year prison sentence for fraud and other charges in a maximum security penal colony in Melekhovo, 250 kilometers (150 miles) east of Moscow. Consequently, the trial for the significant “extremist case” is taking place in a courtroom at Penal Colony No. 6 in Vladimir.

Navalny is facing charges under six articles of Russia's Criminal Code: incitement to extremism, creation of an NGO violating citizens' rights, financing extremism, forming an extremist community, involving minors in dangerous activities, and rehabilitation of Nazism.

The verdict in the “extremist case” is set to be announced on August 4 at 16.00 Moscow time.

Before his January 2021 arrest, Navalny exposed official corruption and led major anti-Kremlin protests. After recovering from nerve agent poisoning in Germany, executed by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), he returned to Moscow, and was arrested by police officers at passport control at Sheremetyevo Airport.

A joint investigation by Bellingcat, The Insider and CNN, with contributions from Der Spiegel, published in December 2020, revealed the names and ranks of the FSB officers responsible for poisoning Alexei Navalny with the Novichok nerve agent.

After the release of the investigation, Navalny called Konstantin Kudryavtsev, one of the FSB officers mentioned in the report, introducing himself as Assistant to Secretary of Russia’s Security Council Nikolai Patrushev. In the conversation that followed, Kudryavtsev gave details of Navalny's poisoning.

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