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Jailed Navalny Gives Prize Money To Families Of Four Political Prisoners

Andrei Borovikov (left), who was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison, with Aleksei Navalny
Andrei Borovikov (left), who was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison, with Aleksei Navalny

Jailed Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny says he has distributed the financial part of the Boris Nemtsov Prize, 10,000 euros ($11,850), he received in February, among the families of four political prisoners.

Navalny wrote on Instagram on September 3 that he had asked Nemtsov's daughter, Zhanna, to give 2,500 euros to each family "whose situation is worse than mine."

One recipient will be the family of Pavel Zelensky, a member of Navalny’s defunct Anti-Corruption Foundation, who is serving a two-year prison term he was handed in January after a court convicted him on extremism charges for two posts on Twitter.

The family of Andrei Borovikov, the leader of Navalny’s team in the northwestern city of Arkhangelsk, will also receive a share of the money. Borovikov was sentenced in April to 2 1/2 years in prison for “distributing pornography” by sharing a video by the German rock band Rammstein in 2014, in a case Amnesty International described as “utterly absurd.”

The families of two other activists, Yan Sidorov and Vladislav Mordasov, will also receive the money from Navalny. The two were convicted for “attempting to organize mass disturbances” and sentenced in 2019 to more than six years each in a penal colony -- sentences that were subsequently reduced to four years.

Navalny was awarded with the Boris Nemtsov Prize for "courage in defending democratic values in Russia" in February.

The annual prize was established by the Boris Nemtsov Foundation. Nemtsov, an opposition politician and an ardent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was gunned down in early 2015 near the Kremlin.

Five men from Russia's volatile North Caucasus region of Chechnya were found guilty of involvement in Nemtsov's killing and sentenced to prison terms, but critics, including relatives and colleagues of Nemtsov, say Russian authorities failed to determine who ordered the action.

Navalny was detained at a Moscow airport on January 17 upon his arrival from Germany, where he was recovering from a poison attack in Siberia by what several European laboratories concluded was a military-grade chemical nerve agent.

The Kremlin critic has insisted that his poisoning was ordered directly by Putin, which the Kremlin has denied.

In February, a Moscow court ruled that while recovering in Germany, Navalny violated the terms of parole from an old embezzlement case that is widely considered as being politically motivated. Navalny's 3 1/2 year suspended sentence from the case was converted to a jail term, though the court said he will serve 2 1/2 years in prison given time he had already served.