Russian opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, sentenced to three and half years in prison
Russian opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, has been sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison, with a judge agreeing with prosecutors that he violated probation terms from an earlier conviction his supporters have derided as politically motivated.
Earlier on Tuesday, Navalny denounced the court hearing, calling it a vain attempt by the Kremlin to scare millions of Russians into submission.
The 44-year-old Navalny, an anti-corruption investigator who is the most prominent critic of President Vladimir Putin, was arrested Jan. 17 upon returning from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from a nerve-agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin.
Russian authorities deny the charge and claim, despite tests by several European labs, that they have no proof he was poisoned.
Speaking from a glass cage in the courtroom, Navalny attributed his arrest to Putin’s “fear and hatred,” saying the Russian leader will go down in history as a “poisoner.”
“I have deeply offended him simply by surviving the assassination attempt that he ordered,” he said.
“The aim of that hearing is to scare a great number of people,” Navalny went on. “You can’t jail millions. You can’t jail the entire country.”
Russia’s penitentiary service alleges that Navalny violated the probation conditions of his suspended sentence from a 2014 money-laundering conviction that he has rejected as politically motivated.
It has asked the Simonovsky District Court to turn his 3 ½-year suspended sentence into one that he must serve in prison.
Navalny emphasized that the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that his 2014 conviction was unlawful and Russia paid him compensation in line with the ruling.
Navalny and his lawyers have argued that while he was recovering in Germany from the poisoning, he couldn’t register with Russian authorities in person as required by his probation. Navalny also insisted that his due process rights were crudely violated during his arrest and described his jailing as a travesty of justice.
“I came back to Moscow after I completed the course of treatment,” Navalny said during Tuesday’s hearing.
“What else could I have done?”