Russian Dissident Navalny Faces Possible Multi-Year Prison Sentence

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny appeared in a Moscow court Tuesday to face parole violation charges that could land him up to three-and-a-half years in prison.A sentence for the prominent critic of President Vladimir Putin could trigger more protests, following two weekends of rallies in several Russian cities demanding his release.Blinken Slams Putin for Crackdown on Navalny Supporters US secretary of state also had strong words for Iran and China Navalny was arrested immediately upon arrival in Moscow on Jan. 17 for alleged parole violations after returning from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from a nerve agent poisoning in Russia.Navalny has accused Putin of ordering Russia’s security services to poison him, a charge the Kremlin has repeatedly denied.Several European laboratories have confirmed that Navalny, 44, was poisoned with Novichok, a nerve agent developed by the former Soviet Union.A Russian court recently ruled Navalny must remain in jail, rejecting his appeal against his arrest.  The United States and other Western countries have strongly condemned Navalny’s arrest and demanded his unconditional release.Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service says Navalny violated the probation terms of his suspended sentence from a 2014 money laundering conviction, which he denounced as politically motivated. The service asked the Simonovsky District Court in Moscow to convert his three-and-a-half-year suspended sentence into one that must be served in prison. Navalny’s attorneys have argued that he was rehabilitating in Germany and, therefore, was unable to fully comply with his probation terms. His defense also maintained that due process was repeatedly violated during his arrest.As he sat in a glass cage in the courtroom during Tuesday’s hearing, Navalny said, “I came back to Moscow after I completed the course of treatment.” He added, “What else could I have done?”Navalny’s jailing has sparked very large protests across Russia over the past two weekends, with tens of thousands of people demanding his release and chanting anti-Putin slogans. Police arrested more than 5,700 people during Sunday’s rallies, including more than 1,900 in Moscow, the biggest number in the country since the Soviet era. Most demonstrators were released after being given court summonses and are subject to fines or jail terms of up to 15 days. Several protesters face criminal charges over alleged violence against police. 

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