Russia

Russian Opposition Leader Alexei Navalny Is Sentenced in Moscow to 3½ Years in Jail

Simonovsky District Court | via Reuters
  • Navalny, a leading critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, is already serving a 30-day prison term for parole violations following his arrest on Jan. 17.
  • He had returned to Russia from Germany, where he had been treated for a nerve agent poisoning that took place last August.

A Russian court on Tuesday handed opposition politician Alexei Navalny a 3½-year jail sentence for parole violations, charges he and his team say are trumped up and politically motivated.

Moscow's prison service requested the sentence on Monday, saying he violated the terms of a suspended sentence for fraud charges he received in 2014.

The judge on Tuesday said the year that Navalny has already spent under house arrest will be deducted from his jail term.

Navalny, a leading critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was already serving a 30-day prison term for parole violations following his arrest on Jan. 17. He had returned to Russia from Germany, where he had been treated for a nerve agent poisoning that took place last August.

The opposition leader has accused Putin of ordering the Novichok nerve-agent poisoning, but Putin and the Kremlin have denied any involvement.

Protests

Since Navalny's return to Russia, and his immediate detention, demonstrations have broken out across the country in the last two weekends, with thousands protesting against Navalny's treatment and demanding his release, as well as railing against corruption and kleptocracy.

The protests have led to violent police crackdowns and thousands of detentions and fines, including of Navalny's wife, Yulia.

European and U.S. officials have also called for Navalny's immediate release, but so far have stopped short of punishing Russia. The country is already operating under Western sanctions for its 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and a 2018 nerve agent attack in the U.K. Despite evidence to the contrary, Russia denies involvement in the latter two events.

Sanctions

In late January, the EU said it would hold off from imposing fresh sanctions if Navalny were released.

By noon Tuesday, police had detained almost 100 people who had gathered outside the Moscow court while it considered the prison term, the OVD-Info protest monitoring group said. Reuters said its reporters saw riot police detain around 60 Navalny supporters.

Navalny watched Tuesday's legal proceedings from inside a glass cage in the court. He praised his wife, Reuters reported, who was fined the previous day for taking part in a protest.

"They said that you had seriously violated public order and were a bad girl. I'm proud of you," Navalny said, the news agency reported.

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