A Russian court has sentenced Alexey Navalny to jail 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-a-half-year 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.”Russia’s penitentiary service alleges that Navalny violated the probation conditions of his suspended sentence from a 2014 money laundering conviction that he has rejected as politically motivated.
It asked the Simonovsky District Court to turn his 3 1/2-year suspended sentence into one that he must serve in prison, although he has spent some of that sentence under house arrest.
Navalny emphasized that the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that his 2014 conviction was unlawful and Russia paid him compensation in line with the ruling.
Navalny and his lawyers have argued that while he was recovering in Germany from the poisoning, he couldn’t register with Russian authorities in person as required by his probation.
Navalny also insisted that his due process rights were crudely violated during his arrest and described his jailing as a travesty of justice.