Alexei Navalny was finally scheduled to begin his trial in Moscow today after cooling his heels in a Russian jail since returning to the country last month. Given all of the complications involved in this proceeding and the international attention focused on it, I’m sure that it will drag on for quite a while before we know anything definitive. Oh, wait… what was I thinking? The judge delivered a sentence almost immediately, sending Navalny to prison for two years and six months. (Washington Examiner)
Russian dissident Alexei Navalny has been sentenced to 3.5 years of prison time for violating his parole, according to the Associated Press.
Navalny, 44, one of Putin’s most vocal critics, was jailed in Moscow after returning to his country on Jan. 17. He spent months in Germany, recovering after being poisoned with a Soviet-era nerve agent. He was immediately arrested upon his return and put in jail, having been accused of failing to meet his parole terms under a 2014 suspended sentence for embezzlement.
On Tuesday, the judge returned a verdict that will imprison him for 2.5 years.
The sentence was originally supposed to be 3.5 years, but the judge knocked a year off of it because Navalny had already spent that long under house arrest. (How nice of him, eh?)
The famous Putin critic remained defiant after the ruling.
“We know who did this. We know why this is happening,” Navalny said in an apparent reference to Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to the Washington Post. “Someone did not want me to take a single step on the territory of Russia, and we know why. The reason is the fear of the man in the bunker.”
Just to review what a complete kangaroo court this was, keep in mind how Navalny arrived at this juncture. He was previously convicted on some trumped-up charges of embezzlement but was allowed to go free with 3.5 years of probation. While traveling to Siberia, Putin had some of his goons poison him. He somehow survived the attempted assassination and was flown to Germany where he eventually recovered.
Upon his return, Russian officials claimed that he had missed some probation meetings so he had violated the terms of his release. Keep in mind that he missed the meetings because he was in a medically induced coma and fighting for his life.
I would also remind you that when Navalny was struck down in Siberia, Putin admitted during a press conference that he has personally assured Navalny’s wife in December that he had given “the green light” for Navalny to be transferred to Germany to be treated there. So he missed the meetings with his probation officer because he was in a location that the president of the country had personally approved his travel to. And yet a judge has now sent him back to the slammer for failing to awake from his near-death experience and come back to Russia for a meeting.
That’s some system of justice they have in Russia, eh? You can expect more protests by Navalny’s supporters across the country in the coming days and more mass arrests as well. The big question now is whether Alexei Navalny can survive thirty months in a Russian prison without having an “accident.” He’s joked about that before, but it may not be a laughing matter once he’s out of the public’s eye for an extended period of time.