‘A classic Putinist trial’ Lyubov Sobol handed one-year suspended sentence for trespassing at the apartment of Navalny’s alleged poisoner
On Thursday, April 15, a Moscow court handed down a one-year suspended sentence to opposition figure Lyubov Sobol for trespassing on the property of Konstantin Kudryavtsev — one of the FSB agents implicated in poisoning Alexey Navalny. Kudryavtsev didn’t testify in the case and he wasn’t present during the trial; his family members, who were considered the victims in the case, testified instead. Following the verdict, Sobol declared the proceedings “a classic Putinist trial” and asserted that she plans to challenge the ruling. The opposition politician also insisted that she still plans to run in the parliamentary elections this fall.
“Where’s the criminal investigation into Navalny’s poisoning?” is written in red letters across Lyubov Sobol’s white t-shirt. There are court bailiffs lined up in front of her table, just like during the previous hearing in the “apartment case”— Sobol is facing criminal charges for “infringing on the inviolability of the home” of Konstantin Kudryavtsev (one of the FSB agents implicated in Alexey Navalny’s August 2020 poisoning). There are seven bailiffs, all in bulletproof vests, and they’re blocking the view of not only the other participants in the proceedings but also of the journalists in the courtroom — this is the Perovsky Court’s way of preventing Sobol from filming the proceedings.
Magistrate Inna Shilobodina takes a little more than half an hour to read out the verdict. In a low voice, she lists the evidence presented by the prosecutor, Konstantin Goloviznin. This includes testimonies from Konstantin Kudryavstev’s family members — allegedly, the police were unable to locate the FSB agent himself, — along with reports from the police and investigators, expert analysis, and a video published on the pro-Kremlin Telegram channel Tovarishch Mayor.
Lyubov Sobol pays no attention to the judge — she’s reading something on her phone. Her lawyer, Vladimir Voronin, isn’t listening either. Nor is the prosecutor. Only Kudryavtsev’s mother-in-law, Galina Subbotina, and his wife, Irina Kudryavtseva, are watching the judge with interest.
Despite the arguments from the defense about the investigation’s numerous violations, the judges deem all of the prosecution’s evidence credible. Sobol turns her back to the judge and takes a selfie with the bailiffs in the background. “No one invited the defendant into the apartment,” Shilobodina says at that moment. The judge rejects the defense’s arguments about the hearing being inadmissible without the participation of Konstantin Kudryavtsev — the sole owner of the apartment.
The judge is convinced that Sobol’s guilt has been proven in full. Shilobodina gives her a one-year provisional sentence of community service, in addition to garnishing 10 percent of her wages. Neither the victims nor Sobol react to the verdict. The judge looks up from her papers:
“Do you understand the verdict?”
“What a shame and a disgrace! Simply a disgrace!” — Sobol answers loudly.
The judge explains sharply that if Sobol fails to report to the probation office or commits any other offenses, including administrative ones, her suspended sentence may be converted into a real one.
“I have no doubt that if the Kremlin says so, that’s it,” Sobol replies.
On the street outside of the courthouse, Sobol tells journalists that the verdict was “obvious to everyone.” Nevertheless, she plans to challenge ruling. “A classic Putinist trial!” she adds. Sobol draws the reporters’ attention to the words on her t-shirt: “The most important question for Russian society,” she underscores, “[Is] what lawlessness is happening with the country’s main politician?”
Asked if she entered Konstantin Kudryavtsev’s apartment or not, the opposition figure repeats that she will only testify on the matter after Kudryavtsev does so himself. She also adds that regardless of the court’s decision and the other criminal case against her, she hasn’t abandoned her plans to run in the State Duma elections this fall.
Translation by Eilish Hart