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Alexei Navalny blasted a court hearing Tuesday over whether he should be sent to prison for years — calling it a scare tactic to force Russians into submission.
The outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin was arrested Jan. 17 upon returning from Germany and accused of violating probation conditions for a 2014 money laundering conviction.
Navalny — who survived two assassination attempts he claims was ordered by the Kremlin — ripped Putin as a “poisoner.”
“I have deeply offended him simply by surviving the assassination attempt that he ordered,” he said in court from a glass cage.
“The aim of that hearing is to scare a great number of people. You can’t jail the entire country.”
Protests have erupted over Navalny’s arrest leading to thousands being busted, including his wife Yulia. More than 320 demonstrators were nabbed on Tuesday during Navalny’s hearing.
Alexei Navalny talks to one of his lawyers, left, while standing in the cage during a hearing to a motion from the Russian prison service.AP
Russia’s penitentiary service accuses Navalny of violating the probation conditions of his 2014 conviction and has asked the court to turn his 3 1/2 year suspended sentence in the case into one that he must serve in prison.
But Navalny said the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that his conviction was unlawful and that Russia paid him compensation in line with the ruling.
He and his lawyers have argued that he was unable to register with Russian authorities in person, as required by his probation, while he was recovering in Germany from the poisoning.
“I came back to Moscow after I completed the course of treatment,” Navalny said at Tuesday’s hearing. “What else could I have done?”
Police officers stand guard during a hearing to a motion from the Russian prison service to convert the suspended sentence of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny into a real prison term.AP
With Post wires