Sunday, February 28, 2021

Alexei Navalny sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison

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Russian dissident Alexei Navalny was ordered to serve three and a half years in prison after a court on Tuesday ruled that he violated terms of his parole.

Navalny, one of President Vladimir Putin’s fiercest critics, was busted at the Russian border on Jan. 17 after returning from Germany, where he’d been recovering for five months from being poisoned with a nerve agent.

Navalny was initially sentenced in 2014 to a suspended three and a half year jail sentence, but Judge Natalya Repnikova reversed the punishment Tuesday.

The Simonovsky District Court judge said Navalny, 44, previously served time under house arrest — which would count toward time served. That means his prison term would work out to be at least two and a half years.

As the ruling was handed down, Navalny pointed to his wife Yulia in the courtroom and traced the outline of a heart on the glass cage where he was being held.

“I am fighting and will keep doing it even though I am now in the hands of people who love to put chemical weapons everywhere and no one would give three kopecks for my life,” Navalny said just before the ruling.

His team immediately called for supporters to protest in central Moscow — as they have been over the past two weekends.

The opposition leader reportedly survived a second assassination attempt while in a coma in the hospital.

He was charged with violating his probation as part of his 2014 conviction on money laundering charges because he didn’t check in with the prison service while recovering in Germany.

“I came back to Moscow after I completed the course of treatment,” he said in court Tuesday. “What else could I have done?”

Navalny has previously pointed to a 2017 ruling from the European Court of Human Rights which found the fraud case was “arbitrary and manifestly unreasonable.”

Navalny on Tuesday blasted his recent arrest as a scare tactic used to “intimidate a huge number of people.”

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“They are putting one person behind bars to scare millions,” he said.

Immediately after Tuesday’s ruling, international leaders demanded that Russia release Navalny, as well as the scores of demonstrators who’ve been arrested during protests over his case.

“We reiterate our call for the Russian government to immediately and unconditionally release Mr.

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