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Russian court gives opposition leader Alexey Navalny a new prison sentence

Moscow — Russian opposition chief and fierce Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny was sentenced to three and a half years in jail on Tuesday in a court docket continuing that he condemned as politically motivated. The court docket gave him credit score for about yr of the sentence he had already served underneath home arrest, saying he can be required to spend one other 2 years and eight months behind bars.

In a speech within the Moscow courtroom earlier than the ruling was handed down, Navalny accused Russian authorities, and President Vladimir Putin immediately, of being chargeable for his persecution — and his poisoning with a lethal nerve agent.

“They’re imprisoning one particular person to frighten tens of millions,” Navalny stated. “This is not an illustration of energy, it is a present of weak spot.”

He vowed to proceed his years-long struggle towards Putin’s authorities from behind bars.

“My life is not price two cents, however I’ll do every thing I can in order that the legislation prevails,” he stated.

His supporters — greater than 8,000 of whom have been detained by police at protests during the last couple weeks — instantly known as for a brand new present of assist, urging folks to hit the streets once more on Tuesday evening. 

Navalny, a 44-year-old anti-corruption investigator who’s change into an more and more giant thorn in Putin’s facet, was arrested on January 17 instantly upon his return from Germany, the place he spent 5 months recovering from poisoning with the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok.

He says the assault occurred in Russia, on Putin’s orders — an allegation the Kremlin has denied.

Navalny was discovered responsible on Tuesday of violating the phrases of a earlier 3.5-year suspended sentence, stemming from an earlier conviction that he has all the time dismissed as politically motivated.

In keeping with the jail service and Russian prosecutors, Navalny didn’t verify in with jail officers whereas he was recovering in Germany on the finish of final yr.

Navalny’s protection workforce pointedly famous throughout Tuesday’s listening to that three years in the past the European Courtroom of Human Rights dominated his 2014 conviction arbitrary and unreasonable. Russia paid him compensation according to that ruling.

His conviction for violating the phrases of his bail was delivered simply two days after tens of 1000’s of Russians took to the streets for the second weekend in a row to demand Navalny’s launch, and to sentence Putin’s rule.

Navalny’s associates known as for folks to collect close to the court docket on Tuesday morning in a present of assist and to demand his launch.

The Moscow Metropolis Courtroom, the place the trial occurred, was cordoned off by a whole bunch of riot police from very early within the morning. A number of streets surrounding the constructing have been blocked, and metropolis authorities additionally closed entry to Crimson Sq. and different central squares near the Kremlin, fearing extra protests.

About 300 folks have been detained over the course of the day, lots of them earlier than they may even get close to to the courthouse.

Navalny’s arrest final month sparked worldwide outrage. Greater than a dozen Western diplomats attended Tuesday’s court docket listening to, prompting criticism from Russia’s Overseas Ministry. Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova known as their presence an try to exert “psychological strain” on the decide.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken denied Russian claims of interference in an interview with NBC Information on Monday, and put the blame for the unrest in Russia squarely on Putin, who has been on the helm of energy in Russia for greater than 20 years.

“The Russian authorities makes an enormous mistake if it believes that that is about us,” stated Blinken. “It is concerning the authorities. It is concerning the frustration that the Russian folks have with corruption, with autocracy, and I believe they should look inward, not outward.”

Blinken stated the Biden administration was nonetheless contemplating its response to the state of affairs in Russia.

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