February 23, 2022 – By North.Realities
A key prosecution witness who refused to testify against jailed Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny in an ongoing trial has left Russia.
Fyodor Gorozhanko, a former member of Navalny’s team, told the Mozhem Obyasnit Telegram channel on February 23 that he is currently in an unspecified foreign country.
“I [left the country] due to [personal] security reasons. It is clear why, as I said too much at the trial. Repercussions were very possible. I have irritated the investigators’ team more than enough already. Their reaction was imminent,” Gorozhanko told the Telegram channel.
Two days earlier, Gorozhanko, who was called by prosecutors to Navalny’s trial said that the case against Navalny was “absurd,” adding that investigators imposed pressure on him and tried to instruct him what to say during the trial.
The trial on embezzlement charges that Navalny rejects as politically motivated is being held inside a penal colony in the Vladimir region.
Gorozhanko said that, before the start of the trial, an investigator handed him the text of his testimony to double-check if he remembered it by heart.
Some members of Navalny’s team suspected that Gorozhanko had leaked that personal data of Navalny’s supporters who were registered on a website of the jailed politician’s supporters. The allegation has been rejected by Gorozhanko.
Gorozhanko suggested at the trial that investigators must have picked him as a key witness in the case thinking that he is at odds with his former colleagues and Navalny.
Moscow’s Lefortovo district court resumed the trial on February 21 inside Correctional Colony No. 2 in the town of Pokrov in the Vladimir region, some 200 kilometers east of Moscow, where Navalny has spent the last year on a different charge after returning from abroad where he was recovering from a near-fatal poison attack that he blames on the Kremlin.
Profile: Aleksei Navalny, Winner Of The Sakharov Prize
Investigators say Navalny is accused of taking $33,770 in donations that were given to his organizations and using them for his own personal benefit, accusations which the outspoken Kremlin critic and his supporters reject, calling them politically motivated.
The charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, while Navalny also faces up to six months in prison for the contempt-of-court charge.
Within weeks of returning from his convalescence in Germany in January 2021, Navalny was handed a 2 1/2-year prison sentence for violating the terms of an earlier parole. His conviction is widely regarded as the result of a trumped-up, politically motivated case.
The Kremlin has denied any role in the poisoning, which along with his arrest sparked widespread condemnation and sanctions from the West.
An honest, clever, freedom-loving man has no place in Putin’s mafia regime.