Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny announced on Monday that his status has been changed to extremist and terrorist but that authorities have dropped his classification as an escape risk.
In an Instagram post, the jailed opposition leader said a commission at the prison located in the Vladimir region voted unanimously to alter his status, according to Reuters.
Navalny is serving a 2 ½-year prison sentence for violating parole while he was recovering from being poisoned by a Soviet-era nerve agent in August 2020. He was arrested after returning to Russia from Germany in January of this year. The U.S. and allies blame Russia for Navalny’s poisoning. The Kremlin, however, has denied any involvement.
Navalny was accused of not meeting parole requirements that were part of a 2014 suspended sentence for embezzlement. Navalny has said the charge was politically motivated.
The change of Navalny’s status illustrates an increase in pressure against the opposition leader, who is Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinRussia, US lift targeted sanctions so Nuland can visit Moscow The West needs to help Moldova now Pandora Papers: 4 takeaways from massive leak of world leaders’ finances MORE’s most well-known critic, according to Reuters.
Navalny said that the change in status — specifically dropping his designation as an escape risk — means he will now have to undergo fewer strict night checks by guards, a development he welcomed.
“I was afraid they would demand that I kiss portraits of Putin and learn quotes from [former Russian President] Dmitry Medvedev by heart, but there’s no need,” Navanly wrote in the Instagram post, which was published with assistance from his attorneys, according to Reuters.
“It’s just that there is now a sign over my bunk that I am a terrorist,” he added.
Russian authorities have not confirmed that Navalny’s status was changed, and the Federal Penitentiary Service did not immediately respond to Reuters’s request for comment.
New charges were unveiled against Navalny in August, including establishing a noncommercial organization that “infringes on people’s rights.”
The Investigative Committee of Russia said the opposition leader’s foundation, which he has overseen alongside others since 2011, persuaded citizens to commit “unlawful acts” by encouraging Russians to take part in unauthorized rallies in January.
Last month, the investigative committee said it was launching a criminal probe against Navalny and his allies for allegedly bolstering extremism in the country.
President BidenJoe BidenMajority of Americans concerned about cyberattacks on critical groups: poll Labor secretary says 194K jobs added in September was ‘not the best number’ Biden task force has reunited 52 families separated under Trump: report MORE in March unveiled sanctions against Russia for its use of chemical weapons against dissidents, including Navalny.