After a spectacular trial and two recesses to deliberate, the judges of the Symonovsky Court of the Russian capital, who have had to use the seat of the Moscow Municipal Court to have more space, has decided to sentence Alexéi Navalni, main adversary of the president Vladimir Putin, to three and a half years in a penal colony, but one year of previous arrests is deducted and he must serve two years and eight months. As soon as he heard the verdict, his wife, Julia Naválnaya, burst into tears.
The sentence was handed down by Judge Natalia Répnikova while in the adjacent streets, not in the immediate vicinity of the judicial building because of the police cordon deployed, a crowd of supporters of the opposition leader demanded his release. More than half a thousand of those who attended were arrested and there were even clashes with the agents.
In his intervention before the judge, Navalni reiterated that the entire process has been «rigged»From the beginning and that, in his opinion,« the most important thing in this trial is to scare huge numbers of people. They imprison one of them to intimidate millions. However, he said that, despite the huge number of people arrested in the demonstrations last Sunday, more than 5,500, and on January 23, almost 4,000, “you can’t put hundreds of thousands of people in prison». “When they realize this, and that moment will come, they will see that the whole country cannot be imprisoned,” he said.
“Old man in the bunker”
The opposition leader once again called Putin “an old man in the bunker” and accused him again of being the one who gave the order to poison him last summer. He assured that “some have gone down in history as Yaroslav the Wise and Putin will do so as Vladimir the poisoner of underpants.”
Navalni managed last December to pose as the secretary of the Russian Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev, in a telephone conversation he had with Konstantín Kudriátsev, one of the agents allegedly involved in his poisoning with the toxic substance for military use Novichok. Kudriátsev admitted that the poison was smeared on his underpants, on the front seams of the part of the garment that covers the genitals, on his fly. The recording of that dialogue was broadcast on social media, although the Russian Federal Security Service (the former KGB renamed the FSB after the dissolution of the USSR) called it a “fake.”
The research group Bellingcattogether with CNN and Der Spiegel published a report on December 14 that links Kudriátsev with the team that carried out the attack on Navalni while he was campaigning for local elections in the Siberian city of Tomsk. The Bellingcat investigations concluded that a team of FSB chemical weapons specialists organized the operation to liquidate the opposition leader, something that Putin himself came out to deny during the traditional press conference that he offers each year in December.
The top Russian leader declared that the Bellingcat revelations show that Navalni “has the support of the intelligence services of the United States.” But Putin acknowledged that the FSB was effectively spying on and following Navalni for precisely that. “Our services had to watch him, but why should he be poisoned? That’s ridiculous. In his words, “if they had wanted, they would have eliminated him (…) his wife asked me to send him to a Berlin hospital and I allowed it immediately.”
Caso Yves Rocher
Navalni today held a sour exchange of replies with the representative of the Attorney General’s Office, who tried to show that the accused did not attend the mandatory appointments with the prison authorities while his sentence was suspended. The opposition politician was sentenced in 2014 to three and a half years in prison “conditional” for an alleged crime of fraud and money laundering related to the firm Yves Rocher.
The alleged “systematic violation” of the inspections to which, according to the authorities, Navalni did not attend is what has led the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia (FSIN) to request the Simonovsky Court to change the suspended sentence to real and, therefore So much so, go to serve it in prison. Both the opposition leader and his lawyers defended today that he could not attend the summons because he was in Germany to receive treatment after his poisoning. The FSIN lawsuit was what led to Navalni being arrested as soon as he set foot in Russia after returning from Germany on January 17.
In addition, both he and the defense reminded the judge that the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) annulled that sentence, which he described as “motivated by political reasons.” Navalni said that “Russia is obliged to implement the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism