Moscow’s Simonovsky District Court has sentenced Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny to 3.5 years in prison for violating the terms of his probation in the Yves Rocher case. Pending appellate rulings, he will spend the next two years and eight months in prison due to time previously served under house arrest.
Navalny will remain in custody until the verdict comes into force.
Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service filed a complaint against Navalny in mid-January, arguing that he violated his parole during the months he spent in Germany recovering from an apparent attempt on his life using a chemical nerve agent in August 2020.
During today’s hearing, a prison agency representative maintained that Navalny violated the terms of his probation more than 50 times.
Navalny was arrested on January 17, immediately upon returning to Moscow from Berlin. The next day, a Russian court remanded him in custody for 30 days. Since then, Navalny has been in detention at Moscow’s Matrosskaya Tishina prison.
Navalny’s hearing took place at the Moscow City Court building on Tuesday, February 2. Police cordoned off the surrounding area on Tuesday morning and arrested upwards of 350 people in the vicinity.
Update. After the hearing, Navalny’s lawyer Olga Mikhailova told Interfax that his defense team intends to challenge the verdict and seek Navalny’s release. “And we will turn to the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers in connection with the non-fulfilment of the European Court’s ruling [in the Yves Rocher case],” Mikhailova said.
In 2014, Alexey Navalny and his brother Oleg were found guilty of embezzlement and laundering funds stolen from two Russian companies associated with the French cosmetics brand “Yves Rocher.” Oleg Navalny was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison and Alexey Navalny was given a 3.5-year probation sentence. The brothers pleaded not guilty, calling the case politically motivated.
In 2017, the European Court of Human Rights declared the verdicts “unjust” and ordered the Russian authorities to pay the Navalny brothers compensation. Their sentences were never overturned, however.
Navalny is also a defendant in another felony fraud case launched by the Russian Investigative Committee in December 2020. State detectives accuse Navalny of allegedly embezzling hundreds of millions of rubles in donations to his nonprofit anti-corruption organizations.