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His day in court Events before and after Alexey Navalny’s prison sentencing in Moscow

Source: Meduza
Moscow City Court Press Service

Meduza summarizes the Russian authorities’ case against opposition politician Alexey Navalny and the events that immediately preceded and followed Tuesday’s announcement that he will spend at least the next 2.5 years in prison.

A Moscow district court revoked Alexey Navalny’s probation sentence in the Yves Rocher case and replaced it with time in prison, sentencing the opposition politician to three years and six months behind bars. Factoring in the 10 months Navalny previously spent under house arrest, his prison sentence is two years and eight months.

The hearing was called after a lawsuit by Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service charged Navalny with violating the terms of his parole in part by remaining in Germany while recovering from near-fatal exposure in Tomsk to a Novichok nerve agent in August 2020. The agency accused Navalny of evading parole officers more than 50 times. According to prison officials, Navalny’s parole violations occurred both before and after his hospitalization in Berlin. On December 29, 2020, Russian law enforcement issued a warrant for Navalny’s arrest. He nevertheless returned to Moscow on January 17 and was immediately taken into custody and jailed until the start of today’s trial.

Navalny says the case against him is fabricated. In a courtroom speech, before his verdict was announced, he demanded his immediate release. “The explanation is one man’s hatred and fear — one man hiding in a bunker. I mortally offended him by surviving. I survived thanks to good people, thanks to pilots and doctors. And then I committed an even more serious offense: I didn’t run and hide,” Navalny told the court. His lawyers have vowed to challenge today’s ruling. They have 10 days to file their appeal. In the meantime, Navalny will remain jailed.

Throughout the day, the police cordoned off the area around the Moscow City Court where Navalny’s trial took place, arresting demonstrators, journalists, and random passersby. According to the monitoring group OVD-Info, police arrested more than 300 people.

Several foreign diplomats attended Navalny’s hearing and roughly 20 cars with Western diplomatic license plates arrived at the courthouse on Tuesday morning. In a Facebook post, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called this presence an attempt to interfere in Russia’s domestic affairs. After Navalny’s verdict was announced, Western officials demanded the politician’s immediate and unconditional release.

Even before today’s verdict was announced, the police started closing down central Moscow, cordoning off Red Square, Pushkin Square, and Manege Square outside the Kremlin. The city also shut down three subway stations — Okhotnyi Ryad, Revolution Square, and Alexandrovsky Sad — and roads leading to “Matrosskaya Tishina” prison, where Navalny is currently jailed. At the time of this writing, at least 2,000 people were protesting in central Moscow. Arrests were underway. 

Text by Alexander Filimonov

Translation by Kevin Rothrock

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