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Breaking News: Russian Court Jails Alexei Navalny

 

Alexei Navalny has been jailed by a Russian Court over alleged parole violations in an embezzlement case dating back to 2014, which the Kremlin opponent argues is politically motivated.

Alexei Navalny has been jailed by a Russian Court over alleged parole violations in an embezzlement case dating back to 2014, which the Kremlin opponent argues is politically motivated.

Judge Natalya Repnikova ordered a suspended three and half years sentence Navalny received in 2014 to be changed to time in a penal colony, the TASS news agency reported.

“The court has ruled to satisfy the motion of the Federal Penitentiary Service,” said judge Natalya Repnikova as she announced the decision.

Tuesday’s ruling at the

Simonovsky District Court in Moscow is likely to fuel more demonstrations in support of Navalny and deepen a rift between Russia and Western powers demanding the 44-year-old’s release.

The decision comes two weeks after Navalny was arrested on January 17 upon returning to Moscow from Berlin, where he spent five months recovering from an alleged nerve-agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin. Russian authorities reject the accusation.

Speaking from a glass cage in the courtroom during his hearing, Navalny attributed his arrest to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “fear and hatred,” saying the Russian leader will go down to history as a “poisoner.”

“I have deeply offended him simply by surviving the assassination attempt that he ordered,” he said.

“The aim of that hearing is to scare a great number of people,” Navalny said. “You can’t jail millions. You can’t jail the entire country.”

Russian police detained 311 people in Moscow ahead of the hearing, the OVD-Info protest monitoring group said.

Riot police were deployed in large numbers outside the court after Navalny’s allies called on the opposition politician’s supporters to gather outside in support.

Navalny’s detention has sparked nationwide protests against Putin. Tens of thousands of people defied a heavy police presence to fill the streets in towns and cities across Russia on Sunday for the second week running to demand the Kremlin critic’s release.

Western powers have meanwhile called on Russia to free Navalny, with some threatening fresh sanctions.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab urged Russia Navalny, calling a Moscow court order for him to serve jail time “perverse”.

“The UK calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Alexey Navalny,” Raab said in a statement.

“Today’s perverse ruling, targeting the victim of a poisoning rather than those responsible, shows Russia is failing to meet the most basic commitments expected of any responsible member of the international community.”

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas for his party called Tuesday’s ruling against Navalny a “bitter blow” to the rule of law in Russia and demanded the opposition leader’s immediate release.

“Today’s verdict against Alexei Navalny is a bitter blow against fundamental freedoms and the rule of law in Russia,” he wrote on Twitter, describing Navalny’s prosecution as arbitrary.

“Alexey Navalny must be released immediately,” he added.

The Kremlin has dismissed concerns from the international community, saying the case is a domestic issue.

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