Putin a ‘madman’ for starting ‘stupid war’ against Ukraine, says Navalny

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Alexei Navalny appears in court by video link on 24 May, 2022 (EPA)
Alexei Navalny appears in court by video link on 24 May, 2022 (EPA)

Vladimir Putin is a “madman” for starting his “stupid war” in Ukraine, jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny has said.

The Kremlin critic, 45, made the comments during a court hearing on Tuesday in which he unsuccessfully attempted to appeal against a nine-year prison sentence he claims was politically-motivated.

In late March, Mr Navalny, who was already serving a 30-month sentence, was given the additional jail term for fraud and contempt of court. Rights organisations described the case as a “sham trial”.

Appearing by video-link on Tuesday, Mr Navalny said the prosecutions’ “facts” were untrue, comparing them to the lies Putin has used to justify his war in Ukraine.

Hitting out at the Russian president’s claim to be “de-Nazifying” Ukraine, Mr Navalny said: “One madman has got his claws into Ukraine and I do not know what he wants to do with it – this crazy thief.”

The dissident added that Russia was being run by criminals who should be seen as enemies of the people.

Kira Yarmysh, his spokesperson, tweeted that he also faces new criminal cases, which are designed by Vladimir Putin “to keep Navalny in prison as long as he can”.

“The task of the entire world now is to make sure that Putin is defeated as soon as possible,” she added.

Mr Navalny has encouraged the Russian public to oppose the Russian president, even if it risks them losing their freedom.

Shortly after Mr Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, Mr Navalny called him an “insane little tsar”, encouraging the public not to make Russia a “nation of frightened cowards”.

“I am urging everyone to take to the streets and fight for peace,” he said. “If, to prevent war, we need to fill up the jails and police vans, we will fill up the jails and police vans.”

“Everything has a price and now, in the spring of 2022, we should pay that price.”

World leaders including Boris Johnson have praised Mr Navalny’s courage in recent months, with the prime minister saying he “continues to show incredible bravery in standing up to Putin’s regime”.

“I think we’ve seen the sort of trumped-up charges that Putin uses against those who seek to hold him to account, or those that seek to engage in the democratic process, and this is sadly a continuation of that,” his spokesperson said at the time of Mr Navalny’s most recent conviction.

Mr Navalny was arrested in January 2021 after landing back in Russia from Germany, where he had received treatment for nerve agent poisoning, widely believed to have been ordered by the Kremlin.

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