Accuracy in Media

WASHINGTON — Just as NSA leaker Edward Snowden officially applied for temporary asylum in Russia, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Kremlin-backed government have imprisoned a prominent opposition leader, Alexei Navalny.

alexei navalnyReuters reports that Navalny was sentenced to a five-year prison term for theft, which was much longer than what his supporters expected. This comes as Putin is consolidating power in Russia.

Navalny became famous when he led the largest protests against Putin and his government last year and campaigned on anti-corruption efforts. His supporters, said Reuters, believe that Putin is now a dictator ruling by repression as they shouted “Shame! Disgrace!” after hearing of the court’s decision. Many were shocked, were in tears and angry at the heavy-handed verdict.

The U.S. and European Union expressed concern over the case and could be worrisome for Snowden, who is seeking temporary asylum in Russia. Russian government prosecutors asked for a six-year jail term for Navalny for organizing a scheme to rob his previous employer, a timber company, of at least 16 million rubles.

Navalny, in his last court statement, called Putin a toad that abuses Russia’s oil wealth to remain in power and went on Twitter to say, “Okay, don’t miss me. More important – don’t be idle.”

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