MOSCOW – The Russian justice imposed on Tuesday the opposition leader Alexei Navalny a sentence of two years and eight months in prison when enforcing a suspended sentence of 2014 that was described as arbitrary by the European Court of Human Rights.
The judge in the case ruled that Navalny, who returned to Russia in January after recovering from poisoning with the chemical agent Novichok, violated probation by failing to appear before the competent authority last year.
Navalny, a 44-year-old anti-corruption investigator who is the most prominent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was arrested on January 17 upon his return from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from a neurotoxin poisoning that he blames the Kremlin for.
The Russian authorities have rejected the accusations and say that, despite tests carried out by various European laboratories, they have no evidence that he had been poisoned.
The Russian prison service alleged that Navalny had violated the probation terms of his suspended sentence for a 2014 money laundering conviction, which the opponent said was politically motivated.
Navalny and his lawyers argued that during his recovery in Germany he was unable to appear before the Russian authorities in person as required by his parole.
Find out about the details.
Navalny further insisted that his right to due process was violated during his detention and described his incarceration as a parody of justice.
Navalny’s arrest has sparked mass mobilizations across Russia the past two weekends, in which tens of thousands of people took to the streets to demand his release and chanted slogans against Putin.
Police detained more than 5,750 people in Sunday’s protests, including more than 1,900 in the capital, a record since Soviet times. Some were beaten.
Most were released after receiving subpoenas and face prison terms of between 7 and 15 days. Several face criminal charges for alleged violence against the police.
Navalny’s team called another demonstration in front of the Moscow court on Tuesday, but police were deployed in the vicinity of the building, cordoning off nearby streets and making random arrests.
More than 120 people were arrested, according to the detention monitoring group OVD-Info.
German Chancellor Angeka Merkel denounced Russia for trying to poison Putin’s political opponent Alexei Navalny with the liquid.
Despite the police cordons, some Navalny supporters managed to approach the court.
A young woman climbed into a pile of snow on the other side of the street and held up a sign with the phrase “Freedom for Navalny.” Less than a minute later, the police took her down from the scene.
Following his arrest, Navalny’s team posted a two-hour video on YouTube of an opulent Black Sea residence allegedly built for Putin.
“This is my house. Everyone asks me if I am afraid. I am not afraid. I go to passport control completely calm,” Navalni said.
The video accumulates more than 100 million views, fueling the discontent of ordinary Russians facing an economic crisis and the coronavirus pandemic.
Putin insisted last week that neither he nor his relatives own any of the properties mentioned in the video, and his confidant, construction mogul Arkady Rotenberg, claimed to be the owner.
As part of their efforts to curb the protests, authorities have targeted the opposition’s associates and activists across the country.
Despite reservations from Russian doctors who did not want to authorize his transfer, Alexei Navalny survived the flight.
His brother, Oleg Navalny; His main partner, Lyubov Sobol, and several others were under house arrest for two months and face criminal charges for violating restrictions to combat the coronavirus.
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who is scheduled to visit Russia later this week, criticized the arrests and the disproportionate use of force against protesters, stressing that Russia must abide by its international commitments.
Russia called the criticism from US and EU officials interference in its internal affairs.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday that Russia is ready to talk about Navalny, but warned that it will not heed criticism from the West.
“We are ready to patiently explain everything, but we are not going to react to sobering statements or take them into account,” Peskov said during a conference call with reporters.