Russian dissident, Navalny sentenced to 30 days in prison

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Moscow, Jan. 18, 2021 A Russian court on Monday sentenced Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny to 30 days in prison in a snap trial.

The 44-year-old was found to have violated conditions requiring him to report to the authorities after a previous criminal case against him.

Navalny, who was detained immediately after returning from Germany to Moscow on Sunday, has criticised the trial, saying it was a political process intended to silence him.

The court found that by travelling to Germany, the 44-year-old violated conditions requiring him to report to the authorities after a previous criminal case against him.

Navalny voluntarily returned to Russia after five months in Germany recovering from an assassination attempt with the nerve agent Novichok.

He is one of President Vladimir Putin’s most vocal critics.

The prison sentence is to last until February 15, Navalny’s spokeswomen Kira Yarmysh said.

Navalny’s lawyer Vadim Kobzev said he would appeal the verdict.

Speaking in an online video message apparently recorded in what Navalny described as an “open session” of a court in Khimki outside Moscow, Navalny said the Russian judiciary reached a new level of “lawlessness.”

“I’ve seen a lot of mockeries of justice, but this time [the man] in his bunker is so afraid that they tore up the code of criminal procedure and threw it into the trash,” Navalny said from the improvised court room before the verdict.

The man in the bunker seems to be a reference to Putin. Nawalny’s lawyers had apparently received a letter informing them that a trial was to begin in the police building, which then opened without anyone having been able to prepare.

Earlier, Yarmysh said he had been barred from making calls, despite this being a legal right.

His team members were concerned about his whereabouts when access to him was denied them.

Another of his lawyers, Olga Mikhailova, earlier told Russian broadcaster Echo Moskvy that she had not been allowed access to her client since seeing Navalny at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport.

Videos circulating online showed uniformed officers preventing the lawyer from accompanying Navalny.

Mikhailova said human rights activists waiting outside the police station had also been barred.

She accused the police authorities of violating the law by denying Navalny legal representation.

Navalny was brought to Germany in a coma on Aug. 22 after falling ill on a domestic Russian flight days before.

Navalny holds Putin and the FSB intelligence service responsible for the poisoning – a charge which the Kremlin denies.

The Kremlin critic’s detention drew a sharp reaction from foreign leaders, with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen saying that the Russian authorities “must immediately release him.”

Speaking on behalf of EU members, High Representative Josep Borrell called for the release of Navalny and other detained activists as well as journalists supporting him.

“This detention confirms a continuous negative pattern of shrinking space for the opposition, civil society and independent voices in the Russian Federation.

“The EU will follow closely the developments in this field and will continue to take this into account when shaping its policy towards Russia,” Borrell said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel made a similar call on Monday, saying: “The Russian authorities have detained the victim of an assassination attempt with (chemical) weapons and not the culprits.”

She said this through her spokesman Steffen Seibert.

The United Nations Human Rights office in Geneva also called for Navalny’s release and for a “thorough and impartial investigation into his poisoning” in a Tweet.

“Those responsible for the attempt to assassinate him, using a prohibited chemical weapon, must be brought to justice,” NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg wrote on Twitter, urging Russia to respect its human rights commitments.

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