Bringing the court to him Here’s everything that’s happened since police detained Alexey Navalny in Moscow last night
Nearly five months after he was poisoned, opposition figure Alexey Navalny returned to Russia on Sunday, January 17, where he was taken into custody after he landed at Sheremetyevo International Airport. For more than four hours after his arrest, Navalny’s location was unknown — and he had no contact with his lawyers from nearly 15 hours. At the time of this writing, Navalny is being held at a police station in the town of Khimki, near Moscow, where a court hearing is taking place to determine if he will be remanded in custody pending a court ruling on revoking his probation. Here’s everything that’s happened since police officers detained Navalny last night.
A court hearing regarding Alexey Navalny’s case began at 12:30 p.m. local time on Monday, January 18, inside a police station in the town of Khimki, outside Moscow, where the opposition activist has been held since he was taken into police custody after landing at Sheremetyevo International Airport on Sunday evening. Navalny’s lawyer, Olga Mikhailova, was informed of the hearing just moments before it was set to begin. Leonid Volkov, the head of Navalny’s regional network, posted a photo of the notice on Twitter (pictured below).
Navalny commented on the situation in a video filmed inside the police department, which was posted by his spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh. “Why is the session taking place in the police station? I don’t understand. Why was no one notified, why was no summons given? [...] They just blatantly tore up the Criminal Procedure Code and threw it in the trash. What’s happening here is impossible. This is simply the highest degree of lawlessness.”
An aide from the Khimki City Court told MBX Media that Navalny’s hearing is taking place at a local police department so that journalists can cover the proceedings.
Because of the working regime of the court, we have to limit access to citizens, therefore, journalists wouldn’t be allowed into the courtroom. Due to the fact that this is a high-profile case, the decision was made so that journalists could attend [the hearing] at the police station, because we have the coronavirus, there are many sick employees.
However, as MBK Media underscores, most journalists aren’t being allowed inside the police department and are waiting outside on the street. Earlier, Navalny said that only reporters from the outlet Life and the state television channel Rossiya 24 were present. The opposition activist called for all journalists to be admitted to the hearing.
Lawyers weren’t allowed to see Navalny prior to the hearing — he was unable to contact them for around 15 hours. Navalny’s legal defense team tried to reach him all night, but they weren’t allowed to enter the police department. According to lawyer Vyacheslav Gimadi, who works for Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, he was told that Navalny was sleeping. Initially, police officers said that they would let the lawyers in at nine o’clock in the morning, but in the end Navalny’s lawyers Olga Mikhailova and Vadim Kobzev were only allowed entry around 11:00 o’clock.
The court hearing, which is ongoing at the time of this writing, will determine the measures of restraint to be taken against Navalny in connection with the Yves Rocher case. Though he was sentenced to 3.5 years probation, Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) is seeking to have this revoked and incarcerate Navalny under a reinstated sentence on the grounds that he violated the terms of his probation and evaded the oversight of corrective services. The prison agency is seeking to remand Navalny in custody until the court hearing on his case, scheduled for January 29. According to lawyer Olga Mikhailova, if the court upholds the FSIN’s complaint, Navalny will receive a 3.5 prison sentence, which will be reduced due to time already spent under house arrest (Navalny spent 10 months under house arrest in connection with this case).
Western countries are calling on Moscow to free Navalny immediately. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement of concern and Jake Sullivan, President-elect Joe Biden’s national security advisor, called for Navalny’s immediate release. Canada, the United Kingdom, and a number of European Union countries have also condemned Navalny’s detention.
In response to a statement from foreign diplomats, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Western politicians are “glad to copy the same statements” because it allows them to distract from domestic problems. “They are glad because it seems that this makes Western politicians think that in this way, they can distract from the deepest crisis that the liberal model of development finds itself in," he said.
The Russian Libertarian Party has filed an application with the Moscow Mayor’s Office seeking permission to hold a demonstration in support of Navalny at the end of the month. Party chairman Boris Fedyukin told MBX Media that they are asking the authorities to greenlight a rally of up to 10,000 people on Sakharov Avenue in Moscow on January 31. “This shameful detention of Alexey that took place drew widespread outrage. We decided it was necessary to apply for a massive taking to the streets and we applied for a rally,” he said.
In addition to Navalny, at least 68 people were detained on Sunday, January 17. In Moscow, at least 61 people were detained — three of them were held in police custody over night and the rest were released either after being written up for disobeying police officers or without any charges. Law enforcement officers used force against at least three people while making arrests, two of whom were hospitalized. In St. Petersburg, seven people were detained, but they were all eventually released.
Update. Khimki City Court judge Elena Morozova remanded Alexey Navalny in custody for 30 days (until February 15, 2021) pending a trial to determine whether or not he evaded the oversight of Russia’s prison authorities. Navalny’s hearing is scheduled for January 29. Lawyers told his spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh that Navalny is being taken to the Matrosskaya Tishina prison in Moscow.
Translation by Eilish Hart