Donald Trump on Tuesday called his troubles with the US justice system political persecution for the second time and likened his treatment to that of Russian dissident Alexei Navalny, who died in prison last week.

The Republican former president was ordered Friday to pay a $355 million fine for financial fraud for artificially inflating the value of his properties to secure better terms on bank loans and insurance policies.

A sentence he compared to the treatment meted out to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s rival.

“He is a form of Navalny. It’s a form of communism or fascism,” he flew during a public event in South Carolina.

Referring to the judge who imposed the sentence, he assured that “this guy had decided I was guilty before the trial even started.”

When a Fox News reporter pressed him to address the Navalny case, Mr. Trump did not refer to Mr. Putin. He limited himself to extolling Alexei Navalny, “a very brave man,” who “probably would be better off staying away and speaking from outside the country,” rather than returning to Russia.

“This is also happening in our country,” he continued. “We are going to turn into a communist country in many ways.”

“I have eight or nine trials to my credit because (…) I’m in politics,” he argued.

He made the comments amid controversy over the Republican’s silence on the death of Alexei Navalny on Friday in a Russian prison.

The death of the oppositionist caused a wave of indignant reactions in the West, with the current US President Joe Biden declaring from the same day that President Putin was personally responsible.

But Donald Trump did not immediately react, something that his now only opponent in the race for the Republican nomination ahead of the presidential election on November 5, Nikki Haley, was quick to strongly criticize.

“The fact that he’s not saying anything about Navalny (shows) that he’s either on Putin’s side and thinks it’s good to kill his political opponents, or he doesn’t think it’s a big deal,” Ms Haley said on Sunday.

While Democratic President Joe Biden, a candidate for re-election, referring to a comment by Mr. Trump — who is seen as his most likely opponent in November — that the Navalny case shows how weakened the United States has been internationally, he wondered “why does he always blame America?’

The real estate tycoon now seems determined to use this case to argue that he too is a victim of persecution, without referring to Mr. Putin. The day before Monday, he denounced the judges of the “radical left” who are prosecuting him.

In addition to his civil conviction for real estate fraud, Donald Trump faces four criminal trials for lobbying to overturn the 2020 election (two federal and one state). , about the way he handled classified documents, and about his payments to buy the silence of a porn star who claimed the mogul had an extramarital affair with her.

In total, 91 charges have been brought against him.