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Ksenia Fadeyeva attends an interview with AFP in the Siberian city of Tomsk, on Sept. 7, 2020.ALEXANDER NEMENOV/Getty Images

An associate of imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny was sentenced to nine years in prison on Friday, the latest move in a relentless Kremlin crackdown on dissent.

Ksenia Fadeyeva, a regional legislator who headed a local branch of Navalny’s organization in the Siberian city of Tomsk, was convicted on charges of organizing an extremist group. Her lawyers said they would appeal the verdict, arguing that Fadeyeva had ended her involvement with Navalny’s organization before the authorities labelled it extremist in 2021.

Navalny’s spokeswoman, Kira Yarmysh, hailed Fadeyeva as “honest and brave,” saying on X that those who fabricated the criminal case against her will eventually face punishment.

Navalny, the most prominent foe of Russian President Vladimir Putin, is serving a 19-year sentence on charges of extremism. Earlier this month, he went missing for several weeks until his lawyers announced Monday that he has been moved from a prison in central Russia to a remote Arctic prison colony known for its harsh conditions.

Navalny has been behind bars in Russia since January 2021, when he returned to Moscow after recuperating in Germany from nerve agent poisoning that he blamed on the Kremlin. Before his arrest, he campaigned against official corruption and organized major anti-Kremlin protests.

A Moscow court outlawed Navalny’s Foundation for Fighting Corruption and about 40 regional offices as extremist in June 2021, shutting down his political network and forcing many of his close associates and team members to leave Russia. Those who stayed have faced prosecution.

Fadeyeva’s case is the latest in a string of convictions of regional activists linked to Navalny’s work.

Lilia Chanysheva, who headed Navalny’s headquarters in the central Russian city of Ufa, was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison on similar charges in June, and Vadim Ostanin, who previously headed Navalny’s office in the southern Siberian city of Barnaul, was handed a 9-year sentence in July on charges of organizing an extremist community.

And in October, authorities detained three lawyers representing Navalny in what his associates described as part of Kremlin efforts to completely isolate him.

Navalny associate Leonid Volkov has said that he prodded Fadeyeva to leave Russia amid the crackdown, but she refused, citing her obligations to voters. She has been in custody since her arrest in November.

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