Navalny, Alexei Anatolyevich

Navalny, Alexei Anatolyevich, 1976–, Russian lawyer and political activist. Navalny joined the Russian United Democratic party in 2000 but was expelled in 2007 for his support of ultranationalist activities. A strident opponent of Vladimir Putin, he has campaigned against corruption in government, mainly through organized protests and the social media. In July, 2013, Navalny was convicted on embezzlement charges, which he denied; many observers regarded the charges and trial as part of crackdown on the opposition. He ran (2013) unsuccessfully for mayor of Moscow while appealing his conviction, and accused the government of vote fraud. His prison sentence was suspended on appeal; he was subsequently convicted (2014) on additional embezzlement charges and given a suspended sentence. In 2016 the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that Navalny had been deprived of his right to a fair trial in his 2013 conviction. Russia's supreme court then struck down the sentence and sent the case back to a lower court, which again convicted him, with a fine and suspended sentence, in 2017. The ECHR later (2017) also ruled that he had been unfairly convicted in 2014 as well, but the Russian supreme court then upheld (2018) the original verdict. Navalny, who also has been convicted several times of staging unauthorized rallies and subjected to recurring arrests, sought to organize widespread anticorruption protests several times in 2017; those in March were the largest antigoverment demonstrations in Russia since those following the Dec. 2011 elections. In 2017 he was barred from running for public office in Russia until 2028 because of his criminal convictions. In 2020 he was hospitalized and then treated abroad as a result of poisoning with a nerve agent, presumably on Russian orders; he was arrested when he returned to Russia in 2021 and sentenced to over two and a half years in a penal colony; he began a hunger strike in March 2021 to protest the government's failure to provide him with adequate healthcare. He was awarded the European Union's Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in October 2021.

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