Russia's Navalny defends himself in court against new extremism charges

Jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny appeared before a Russian court on Monday to defend himself against new charges of extremism that could extend his prison term by decades. The hearing took place at the IK-6 penal colony in Melekhovo, about 235 km (145 miles) east of Moscow, where Navalny is already serving sentences totaling 11-1/2 years.

His supporters accuse Russian authorities of trying to break him in prison to silence his criticism of President Vladimir Putin, something the Kremlin denies.

It was not immediately clear which specific actions or incidents the new charges referred to. One relates to "rehabilitation of Nazism" - a possible reference to Navalny's declarations of support for Ukraine, whose government Russia accuses of embodying Nazi ideology. Ukraine and its Western allies dismiss that charge as baseless.

In April, investigators formally linked Navalny supporters to the murder of Vladlen Tatarsky, a popular military blogger and supporter of Russia's military campaign in Ukraine who was killed by a bomb in St. Petersburg. Russia's National Anti-terrorism Committee (NAC) said Ukrainian intelligence had organized the bombing with help from Navalny's supporters. This appeared to be a reference to the fact that a suspect arrested over the killing once registered to take part in an anti-Kremlin voting scheme promoted by Navalny's movement.

Navalny allies denied any connection to the killing. Ukraine attributed it to "domestic terrorism."