Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny sentenced to 2.5 years in prison
Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny is set to spend two years and eight months in a penal colony for violating the terms of his probation linked to a 2014 ruling. He slammed the process as a bid to “intimidate” the public.
A Russian court ordered on Monday the opposition leader Alexei Navalny is set to spend two years and eight months behind bars for violating the terms of his probation over a 2014 money laundering case. While the ruling calls for a 3.5-year prison term, the court will shorten the sentence due to the 10 months Navalny had spent under house arrest.
The ruling on Alexei Navalny comes after a tense hearing at a Moscow courthouse. Navalny and other government critics reject the claims of violating parole and describe the process as an attempt to silence him.
During the hearing, Navalny said his trial was aimed at making people afraid. He blamed the charges against him on Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“This is how it works, they imprison one man, as a means to intimidate millions of people,” Navalny said.
The opposition leader labeled Putin as “Vladimir, the underpants poisoner” during the hearing. According to Navalny’s research into his own poisoning, a “hit squad” deployed by the country’s main intelligence agency FSB tried to kill him by putting a Novichok nerve agent on his underwear. Navalny fell ill after boarding a flight in Siberia, then was hospitalized and eventually flown to Germany for treatment.
“We have proven that Putin committed this attempted murder,” he said on Monday.
The Kremlin has denied the poisoning allegations from Navalny.
The government critic encouraged Russians to resist Putin’s government, saying the Kremlin has stolen the aspirations of the Russian people.
“Lawlessness and arbitrariness are sometimes the essence of a political system. Yet it is even more dire when the lawlessness and arbitrariness are dressed up in prosecutor’s uniform and judge’s mantle. It is the duty of every human being to not subjugate themselves to these people,” Navalny added.
Responding to the court’s decision, several Western nations called for Navalny’s release.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he was “deeply concerned” by Russia’s decision to sentence Navalny to prison and urged the Kremlin to release him “unconditionally and immediately.”
US’ European allies also slammed the move.
“Today’s verdict against Alexei Navalny is a bitter blow against fundamental freedoms and the rule of law in Russia,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said, adding that Navalny must be released immediately.