Russian Political Prisoner Navalny Uses Court Hearing for Speech Against Ukraine War

TOPSHOT - Opposition leader Alexei Navalny is escorted out of a police station on January

Hardline Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, who is currently on trial for charges he rejects as politically motivated, has used the opportunity of a televised defence statement in court to to condemn Russia’s war against Ukraine instead.

Alexei Navalny, Russia’s jailed leader of the political opposition to President Vladimir Putin, has used his time in the court dock to denounce his country’s war with Ukraine.

Navalny is currently on trial for embezzlement — a charge carrying a maximum penalty of 10 years — though the hardline Kremlin critic has insisted that the accusations levelled against him are politically motivated.

However, instead of using his time in the dock to defend himself, Navalny — dressed in his prison uniform — spoke out against Russia’s military engagement with Ukraine.

“This war between Russia and Ukraine was unleashed to cover up the theft from Russian citizens and divert their attention from problems that exist inside the country,” Radio Free Europe reports the opposition leader as telling the Russian court.

“I am against this war,” he also told the trial, which is being held in a penal colony some 120 miles east of Moscow “…it will lead to a huge number of victims, destroyed lives, and the future impoverishment of Russian citizens.”

Meanwhile, the opposition leader described those who started the war with Ukraine as “bandits and thieves”, and that Putin bears full responsibility for the conflict.

This is not the first time Alexei Navalny has spoken out against Russian aggression towards Ukraine, having previously compared hostility towards Ukraine to the Soviet Union’s ill-fated war against Afghanistan.

However, the imprisoned political leader has not been the only one with choice words for Putin’s Russia.

Sergiy Kyslytsya, Ukraine’s Ambassador to the United Nations, has told the Russian government that they can go “straight to hell” after the Federation’s representative accused Ukraine of being the source of hostilities.

“The Russian president declared a war. Should I play the video of your president?” Kyslytsya said indignantly in response to the accusation. “You declared a war. It’s responsibility of this body to stop the war.”

“There is no purgatory for war criminals, they go straight to Hell,” the ambassador also told the Russian representative.

While hostilities have been brewing for some time now, Russian President Vladimir Putin escalated the situation significantly by effectively declaring war at 6:00 a.m. local time.

“I’ve made the decision to conduct a special military operation,” the Russian president declared in a statement. “Our analysis has concluded that our confrontation with these forces [in Ukraine] was inevitable.”

“Russia cannot feel safe, develop, and exist with a constant threat emanating from the territory of modern Ukraine,” he continued, accusing the Ukrainians of “genocide” for attacking what he described as the “independent republics” that came into existence within what used to be Ukrainian territory on Monday.

Putin also threatened countries considering intervening in the conflict, saying that there would be “consequences that you never have had before in your history” for those who got involved, before making explicit reference to Russia’s nuclear capabilities.

This threat however has not dissuaded foreign powers from taking aim at Russia after Putin’s escalation of the conflict, with the EU, United Kingdom and United States all promising the harsh sanctions.

“In these dark hours, the European Union stand by Ukraine and its people. We are facing an unprecedented act of aggression by the Russian leadership against a sovereign independent country,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.

“Russia’s target is not only Ukraine, the target is the stability in Europe and the whole of the international peace order, and we will hold President Putin accountable for that,” she continued.

However, some have raised questions regarding the effectiveness of sanctions, with White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki struggling to explain during a press conference how such measures could possibly serve as a deterrent to Russian aggression.

Nevertheless, Britain’s Prime Minister seems confident in the ability of such measures, claiming that his country’s set of sanctions will “hobble” the Russian economy.

“Our mission is clear: diplomatically, politically, economically and eventually militarily, this hideous and barbaric venture of Vladimir Putin must end in failure,” Johnson said in a pre-recorded television statement.


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