Jailed Putin critic Alexei Navalny quotes ‘The Wire’ in tweet after being sentenced to 9 more years in prison

  • Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny was sentenced to nine more years in prison.
  • The charges against Navalny have been decried by human rights groups as politically motivated.
  • Navalny has been calling for mass protests against Putin’s unprovoked war in Ukraine.

Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent critic, was sentenced to nine more years in a maximum-security prison on Tuesday on charges widely decried as politically motivated. He was convicted of fraud and contempt of court.

Navalny’s sentence has handed down by a judge who was personally promoted by Putin to a higher court just days ago.

In a tweet responding to the sentencing, Navalny quoted the popular HBO show “The Wire.” 

“9 years. Well, as the characters of my favorite TV series ‘The Wire’ used to say: ‘You only do two days. That’s the day you go in and the day you come out,'” Navalny said. “I even had a T-shirt with this slogan, but the prison authorities confiscated it, considering the print extremist.”

The Russian opposition leader’s lawyers, Olga Mikhailova and Vadim Kobzev, were detained outside of the court following the sentencing, according to The Moscow Times, citing the independent Novaya Gazeta newspaper. But they were reportedly released.


Kira Yarmysh, Navalny’s spokesperson, in a series of tweets on Monday urged people to “spread the word about this case.”

Yarmysh warned that if Navalny was found guilty it “will be practically impossible” to keep in contact with him. “Without public protection, Alexei will be face to face with those who have already tried to kill him. And nothing will stop them from trying again. Therefore, we are now talking not only about Alexei’s freedom, but also about his life.”

Navalny in August 2020 was poisoned with the Soviet nerve agent Novichok, in an incident Putin is believed to have orchestrated. Other Putin critics have also been poisoned with Novichok, or died in mysterious ways. After nearly dying and receiving treatment in Germany, Navalny returned to Moscow in early 2021 and was promptly arrested. He was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for violating parole, including while he was being treated in Germany, from a 2014 embezzlement conviction. 

Navalny’s imprisonment led to mass protests in Russia last year. 

For years, Navalny and his allies have worked to expose corruption in Russia. The anti-corruption campaigner’s political network was banned in Russia last year after being dubbed “extremist.”

Human rights groups have repeatedly denounced the charges against Navalny as a sham and backlash for his criticism of Putin.

“Navalny faces nine years in prison for calling out the Russian elite for corruption and abuse of power. This sentence is predictable but nonetheless shocking,” Amnesty International’s director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Marie Struthers, said in a statement. “The world must not overlook this sentence and its significance amid the horrific human rights violations we have seen as a result of Russian aggression against Ukraine.”

Navalny in recent days has called for mass protests against Russia’s unprovoked war in Ukraine. The Russian government has gone to extraordinary lengths to stifle opposition to the war and censor accurate reports regarding the situation on the ground. 

“Words have power, Putin is afraid of the truth, I have always said that,” Navalny said in more tweets following his sentencing on Tuesday. “Fighting against censorship and bringing the truth to the people of Russia has remained our priority. The Kremlin smashes the media, and in response we create new ones.”