Russia's Penitentiary Service warns Alexey Navalny that it could have him locked up for good
Officials from Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) have reportedly warned opposition politician Alexey Navalny that his suspended sentences in two felony convictions could be converted to full imprisonment, says Navalny’s press secretary, Kira Yarmysh.
Navalny is currently serving out a 25-day jail sentence for organizing an unsanctioned protest in Moscow on June 12. Yarmysh wrote on Twitter that FSIN personally visited Navalny in his jail cell on Thursday to inform him that he could be sent to prison.
According to Russia’s penal code, the government can issue such warnings to persons with suspended sentences in cases where the individual has evaded obligations imposed by courts or been convicted of disturbing the peace. If these incidents become regular enough, the FSIN is empowered to ask a court to change an individual’s suspended sentence into a real prison sentence.
In 2014, Navalny received a 3.5-year suspended sentence for supposedly embezzling several million rubles from an Eastern European subsidiary of the cosmetics company Yves Rocher. In a move that critics have described as “political hostage-taking,” Navalny’s brother, Oleg, was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison.
In 2017, Alexey Navalny and Petr Ofitserov were retried for embezzling roughly half a million dollars from a state-owned lumber company in the Kirov region. The second case ended with the same verdict as the first overturned trial: a five-year suspended sentence for Navalny and a four-year suspended sentence for Ofitserov.
In 2014, the Federal Penitentiary Service also warned Navalny that it could ask to have him sent to prison. After the “Yves Rocher” trial, during the first “Kirovles” case and several times in the years since, FSIN officials have appealed to courts, requesting that Navalny be locked up for violating the terms of his suspended sentences. So far, no judge has agreed to do it.