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Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny sentenced to prison despite nation wide protests

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Navalny

Russian opposition leader and fierce Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny was sentenced to three and a half years in prison on Tuesday, 2 February in a court proceeding that he condemned as politically motivated.

Mr Navalny, 44, was jailed at the Simonovsky district court in Moscow over allegations he violated the conditions of a suspended sentence he received in 2014 for money laundering.

He has already spent 11 months under house arrest, so will therefore be in prison for two years and eight months, his lawyer said.

He was arrested and detained on 17 January as he landed back in Russia from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from being poisoned by a nerve agent.

According to CBS News, his lawyers argued he was unable to register with probation services in person while he was recuperating in Germany.

Mr Navalny’s team maintains the Kremlin ordered his murder, a claim it denies. Mr Putin, in turn, alleges that Mr Navalny is working for the CIA, a charge he rejects.

Thousands of supporters have rallied across Russia in support of Mr Navalny.

More than 300 protesters were arrested for gathering outside the court to demand his release, as thousands have done across Russia over the past two weeks in the largest show of defiance against President Vladimir Putin in years.

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab called the sentence a ‘perverse ruling’.

“The UK calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Alexey Navalny and all of the peaceful protesters and journalists arrested over the last two weeks, Mr Raab said.

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

Former MI6 chief Sir John Sawers said: ”Mr Navalny is a symbol of opposition and resistance that Putin doesn’t know how to respond to.

“Putin has become very discomforted by this, he added.

A statement from the Kremlin on Tuesday said Mr Putin was not following the Navalny hearing and was instead preparing for a meeting with Russian teachers.

A Russian foreign ministry spokesperson also hit out at the 20 foreign diplomats who attended the hearing, which they said isn’t just meddling in the internal affairs of a sovereign state, but the self-incrimination of the West’s unsightly and illegal attempts to contain Russia.

 

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