French President Emmanuel Macron, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also called for Mr Navalny’s release.
Alexey @Navalny’s decision to return to Russia after being poisoned was a truly brave and selfless act. In contrast, today’s ruling was pure cowardice and fails to meet the most basic standards of justice. Alexey Navalny must be released immediately.Boris
Russian police detained more than 900 people at protests in favor of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, who was sent to jail by a court on Tuesday for almost three years, the OVD-Info protest monitoring group said.
Moscow court handed Navalny a three-and-a-half-year sentence, but his lawyer said the anti-corruption blogger would actually serve two years and eight months in jail because of time already spent under house arrest.
His lawyers said they would appeal. The United States, Britain, Germany and the EU urged Moscow to immediately free Navalny.
Police detained Navalny’s supporters early on Tuesday as they tried to gather near the court to support him during the ruling. After the ruling, Navalny’s allies called on his supporters to protest in the centre of Moscow.
Navalny has repeatedly blamed for his near-fatal poisoning with a military-grade nerve agent in Siberia last summer. The poison was allegedly administered via his underpants, by a secret team from the Federal Security Service – an accusation the Kremlin has dismissed despite evidence.Alexei Navalny, the Russian opposition leader and fierce critic of President Vladimir Putin, has been sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison.He has already spent 11 months under house arrest, so will therefore be in prison for two years and eight months, his lawyer said.
Natalia Repnikova is the ‘judge’ in Moscow who sentenced Navalny to prison.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.
Navalny was found guilty of embezzling 30 million rubles ($400,000) from two companies, including the French cosmetics brand Yves Rocher, in a case he claims was politically motivated. The judgment was also condemned by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which called the conviction “arbitrary and manifestly unreasonable.” He received a sentence suspended for five years, which was later extended by another year. It was due to expire on December 30 last year. However, a couple of days before it ended, Navalny was summoned by the FSIN. He didn’t turn up, as he wasn’t in the country, and was therefore declared a wanted person.
Prior to the beginning of the case, media reported a large police presence around the court building, with several arrests being made. Nearby streets were blocked off.
The saga surrounding Navalny his corruption investigations, the court cases, his poisoning, his dramatic return to Russia and airport arrest, the bombshell documentary on “Putin’s Palace,” the protests, the crackdown has resonated well beyond Russia’s borders.
In the eyes of a growing number of foreign governments, his case has also turned into a litmus test for the Putin government and how it deals with the growing political threat posed by Navalny.
Britain, the European Union, the United States, and others have criticized the heavy police crackdown on Russian protesters who have taken to the streets for two straight weekends at Navalny’s behest.
And diplomats from about 20 countries attended the hearing at Moscow City Court. International conventions typically allow foreign diplomats to attend another country’s court proceedings regardless of whether the defendant is a citizen of the diplomats’ country or not. It is also common practice for foreign diplomats to attend key hearings in high-profile trials that touch on issues such as human rights.
Still, the presence of so many Western diplomats apparently irked Russia’s Foreign Ministry, whose acerbic spokeswoman suggested without evidence that their presence was a plot to influence the Russian judge.
“This is no longer just interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state. It is the self-exposure of the unsightly and illegal role of the collective West in its attempt to contain Russia,” she wrote in a post to Facebook. “Or is it an attempt to put psychological pressure on the judge