Alexei Navalny, Jailed Putin Critic, Suggests President Secretly Adores Him

Alexei Navalny, the jailed Russian opposition leader and prominent critic of President Vladimir Putin, suggested Tuesday the longtime Russian leader "secretly adores" him, before announcing he had been presented with new charges that could keep him imprisoned for 15 more years.

"Well, what do I know? Maybe Putin doesn't hate me, maybe he secretly adores me," Navalny said in a tweet. "That's why he wants me to be hidden in an underground bunker, guarded by reliable people, just like himself."

In March this year, Navalny was convicted of fraud charges and sentenced to nine years in a maximum-security Russian jail in a case he has said was politically motivated, according to CNN. Despite his imprisonment, he has remained a vocal critic of Putin and the war in Ukraine on social media.

Navalny made the comments about Putin's purported adoration in a Twitter thread Tuesday, noting that Russian authorities have now accused him of creating "an extremist group in order to incite hatred towards officials and oligarchs."

"And when they put me in jail, I dared to be disgruntled about it (silly me) and called for rallies," Navalny added. "For that, they're supposed to add up to 15 more years to my sentence."

Navalny Facing New Charges
Alexei Navalny, the Russian opposition leader and jailed critic of President Vladimir Putin, tweeted Tuesday that he is facing new charges that could keep him in prison for 15 more years. Above, Navalny during his appeal of his nine-year prison sentence in Moscow's City Court on May 24. Contributor/Getty Images

He said that his nine-year sentence had gone into effect a little over a week before and that an investigator "showed up again" to formally charge him with a new case.

"See, that's another 15 years in a secure stable bunker where I will be sheltered from the surprises and hardships of this 'freedom' of yours," he tweeted.

Navalny also said in the Twitter thread that his parents, who live in a small military town, visited him and joked that they would be hit with "one of the first missiles" when Putin starts a nuclear war.

"And I'm having the time of my life - who's going to bomb a prison in the middle of a swamp?" Navalny wrote.

"So when the concrete starts melting out there, I will simply watch a particularly beautiful sunset from the prison yard. Thank Putin for that," he added.

Russia has downplayed talk of a potential nuclear war, despite warnings from U.S. and other officials.

Navalny did not provide additional information on the charges, but the accusation about creating an extremist group seemingly refers to his nonprofit Anti-Corruption Foundation, which he created in 2011.

Newsweek reached out to Russia's Federal Penitentiary Service and Navalny via the Anti-Corruption Foundation for comment and confirmation of the new charges.