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Russian dissident Alexei Navalny has been sentenced to 19 more years of prison

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

And now perhaps the least surprising news story of the week. A Russian court has sentenced opposition leader Alexei Navalny to 19 years in prison for what officials call supporting extremism. Mr. Navalny is already serving a 9-year sentence in a maximum security penal colony. His trial was closed to spectators, the press, even to his parents, who tried to attend.

Of course, Mr. Navalny was nearly poisoned to death in 2020 as he flew to Moscow from a trip to Siberia, where he had criticized the Putin regime. Many Western officials and human rights organizations considered it a targeted assassination attempt by the Russian government. He was flown to Germany, where doctors saved his life. He could have almost certainly received asylum there and stayed in the West. He could be a pundit today speaking out about Putin, Ukraine, corruption, even the World Cup and whatever else he wants on the BBC, CNN and NPR. But Alexei Navalny chose instead to return to Russia, his home, where he was arrested immediately.

A post on Mr. Navalny's X account yesterday, perhaps transmitted by a member of his legal team, read, 19 years in a maximum security penal colony. The number of years does not matter, he wrote. I perfectly understand that, like many political prisoners, I'm sitting on a life sentence where life is measured by the term of my life or the terms of life of this regime. The sentencing figure is not for me. It is for you. You, not me, are being frightened and deprived of the will to resist. You are being forced to surrender your country of Russia without a fight to the gang of traitors, thieves and scoundrels who have seized power. And Alexei Navalny ended, do not lose the will to resist. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.