Alexei Navalny Rallies Putin Resistance—'Toad Sitting on an Oil Pipe'

Alexei Navalny, the jailed Russian opposition leader, has used his latest prison sentencing to rally Russian resistance to President Vladimir Putin.

Dissident Navalny called for his supporters and Putin critics to take action against the "the deceitful and thievish Putin's regime" in a series of tweets on Tuesday, just minutes after being sentenced to nine years in jail for alleged fraud and contempt of court.

"The best support for me and other political prisoners is not sympathy and kind words, but actions," Navalny tweeted.

"Any activity against the deceitful and thievish Putin's regime. Any opposition to these war criminals."

Quoting in his own words in 2013, when he was convicted of embezzlement and given five- and four-year sentences, Navalny told Russians "don't be idle."

"This toad sitting on an oil pipe will not overthrow itself," he added.

Speaking of his latest nine-year sentence, Navalny said he felt "caught in a time loop," comparing his situation to the character of Casey Affleck in Christopher Nolan's 2014 movie Interstellar.

"9 years of strict regime. My space flight is taking a bit longer than expected - the ship is caught in a time loop," he wrote.

Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation will become a global international organization, he added, inviting people to join the cause by donating to the foundation.

Money he received as part of the Sakharov Prize assigned to him by the European Union in December 2021—more than $55,000—"will be the first contribution to this fund," he said.

He added that his organization will keep fight Kremlin media censorship via his Popular Politics channel on YouTube.

Alexei Navalny speaks into a microphone
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny speaks during an opposition rally in central Moscow on April 30, 2018, to demand internet freedom in Russia. Navalny spoke out on Twitter after being sentenced to nine years in jail for fraud and contempt of court. ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images

Earlier on Tuesday, Navalny was sentenced after being found guilty of fraud by a Moscow court.

Prosecutors accused Navalny of embezzling donations from supporters of the opposition leader's Anti-Corruption Foundation, which was banned by authorities last year after being labeled extremist.

Navalny was also ordered to pay a fine of 1.2 million rubles (about $11,500)

The new sentence for the already imprisoned leader is widely regarded as a move from the Kremlin to keep Navalny locked up at a time when Putin is already struggling to maintain control over the narrative surrounding the Ukraine war at home.

With his crackdown on independent media and his recent ban on Facebook and Instagram, Putin has made even harder for Navalny to reach out to the Russian people.

The Russian president's approval rate reached a height of 71 percent in February, according to independent pollsters Levada Center. The latest polling came before Russian troops launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Separate Levada Center polling on Navalny found 14 percent of respondents approved of the dissidents' actions, with six in 10 disapproving.

The survey conducted between February 17-21 in Russia suggested that 14 percent had never heard of him, and 11 percent found the question difficult to answer.

Navalny has been jailed since his return from Germany, where he recovered from what Western officials found to be a clear attempt to poison him in Siberia. The Kremlin denies it was behind the poisoning.