Alexey Navalny Sentenced To Prison Camp
The Russian opposition leader has been sentenced by a court in Moscow: three and a half years in a prison camp. The sentence concerns the cause which the European Court of Human Rights named fabricated.
The Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has been sentenced to three and a half years in a prison camp. A Moscow court decided to convert the suspended sentence against him into prison. The judge claimed, repeating the accusation of the prosecutor, that Mr. Navalny's violation of probation conditions from a trial in 2014 justified her decision.
Mr. Navalny stated: “Please explain how I could better fulfill my obligations? I fell into a coma, was able to meet with lawyers and sent you a paper, you had an address and all contacts. I continued the treatment, finished it and returned to Moscow. What else could I do that I could do better?”
The prosecutor and judge did not accept Mr. Navalny's explanation.
The penal authority FSIN had therefore applied for the subsequent conversion of a suspended sentence to a prison sentence and was supported by the public prosecutor's office. The judge responded to the request with sentence to real prison term in the colony.
Eighteen diplomats including Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Japan, Latvia, Poland, Switzerland and the UK watched the trial in the Moscow court.
The authorities informed that the trial would be open to the public. However, armed police have arrested more than 500 supporters of Mr. Navalny, who wanted to stand at the court building.
Mr. Navalny has been in custody since arriving in Russia on January 17. He came from Germany, where he had been treated for months with the neurotoxin Novichok after an attack in Siberia. In an improvised trial at a police station. Mr. Navalny was sentenced to 30 days' imprisonment for violating reporting requirements. His lawyers' request for release was denied a few days ago. He had already served part of his sentence from the previous trial while under house arrest.
In front of the court in Moscow, the police arrested several people shortly before the start of the hearing on Tuesday morning. Many were picked up at random, a reporter from the German dpa news agency reported. The civil rights portal OVD-Info announced that 24 people are in custody. The area was largely cordoned off with metal bars and was guarded by hundreds of the OMON special police, who specialize in counter-terrorism operations.
The trial was politically motivated
The opposition member had always criticized the 2014 guilty verdict, which involved allegations of money laundering, as politically motivated. Mr. Navalny holds Russian President Vladimir Putin personally responsible for the poison attack. The process after his return is the Kremlin's punishment for not dying in the attack. According to international research networks, it was the secret service that poisoned him. This was also confirmed by an employee of the Russian secret service FSB to whom Mr. Navalny had pretended to be the superior on the phone and then published the conversation.
During the nationwide protests for the release of Mr. Navalny and against corruption in Putin's environment, tens of thousands of people took to the streets in more than 50 cities on Sunday. According to OVD-Info, more than 5,000 people were arrested, more than 1,600 in Moscow alone. In Russian state media there was talk of small demonstrations that testified to a failure of the opposition. There were also demonstrations in at least 40 major cities beyond Russia including Sydney and Adelaide against Mr. Navalny's imminent detention and the Russian government.
Novichok traces proven beyond doubt
Russia refuses to investigate the poison attack because it sees no evidence of poisoning. Several western laboratories, including one from the Germany army Bundeswehr, had proven the Novichok traces beyond any doubt. The EU has therefore imposed sanctions on high-ranking Russian officials. In view of the threat of long-term imprisonment, Mr.Navalny's team has called on the EU and the USA not to stand idly by the arbitrariness of the judiciary in Russia and to impose further sanctions. This is already being discussed at EU level.
Swedish Foreign Minister Ms. Ann Linde is expected to hold talks with her Russian counterpart Mr. Sergei Lavrov in Moscow this Tuesday. She currently also chairs the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. At the end of the week, Mr. Lavrov will meet in Moscow with EU foreign affairs representative Mr. Josep Borrell, who had sharply condemned the crackdown on Navalny on several occasions. Russia refuses to interfere in its internal affairs.
It is the first time since 1992, the foundation of the Russian Federation when the Russian court sentences in the political trial a leader of the opposition to long-term prison.
Mr. Alexey Navalny, who survived two assault attacks against his life, including poisoning with the chemical weapon of mass destruction, is seen as Mr. Putin’s enemy number one.