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Alexei Navalny calls for protests and mocks Putin as he’s JAILED

Allies of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny called for immediate protests today after the Kremlin critic was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for violating the terms of a 2014 conviction.  

Following the sentence, Navalny’s allies called for a protest in Moscow’s Manezhnaya Square. Riot police have been photographed dragging protesters away from locations in the capital and St Petersburg. 

According to protest monitors, at least 679 people have been detained across Russia today. Around half were seized this morning as they gathered near the Moscow court to support Navalny during the ruling. The rest were detained in this evening’s demonstrations.  

As his sentence was read, Navalny made a heart sign with his hands and smiled at his wife Yulia from behind the glass panel of his holding cell. He told Yulia, who was crying as the verdict was read out: ‘Don’t be sad, everything will be fine’.  

The 44-year-old dissident was tried today for breaking the terms of a 2014 embezzlement conviction, for which he received a three-and-a-half year suspended sentence. The Moscow court today ordered Navalny serve his original sentence in a penal colony, minus the one year he already spent under house arrest.  

As Navalny faced his first night in prison, Prime Minister Boris Johnson joined a chorus of world leaders calling for the Kremlin critic’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,’ wrote Mr Johnson. 

The spokeswoman for Russia’s foreign ministry, Maria Zakharova, told other nations to ‘not interfere’ with her country’s internal affairs.   

‘For the last few weeks we have been in a state of comments and responses to similar attacks and statements. You should not interfere in the internal affairs of a sovereign state. And we recommend that everyone deal with their own problems…There are a lot of problems in these countries, there is work to be done,’ she told Russia’s business broadcaster RBC.

Earlier today Navalny mocked Putin by giving him the nickname ‘Vladimir the Poisoner of Underwear’ and told a judge his trial is only taking place because the Russian leader had failed to kill him with Novichok. 

Navalny told the Russian courthouse that Putin is ‘demanding to steal underwear from opponents and smear them with chemical weapons’.   

He also said Putin wanted him imprisoned to ‘scare millions’ and warned the President that ‘people will realise.’

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny makes a heart sign as his prison term is handed down by a Moscow court today 

Policemen detain a protester after allies of Alexei Navalny called for supporters to protest a Moscow court's decision to sentence him to two-and-a-half years in prison

Policemen detain a protester after allies of Alexei Navalny called for supporters to protest a Moscow court’s decision to sentence him to two-and-a-half years in prison

A woman is dragged to jail after attending a protest demanding the release of imprisoned pro-democracy opposition leader Alexei Navalny

A woman is dragged away by Russian police during nationwide protests, called for by now-imprisoned pro-democracy opposition leader Alexei Navalny

A woman is dragged away by Russian police during nationwide protests, called for by now-imprisoned pro-democracy opposition leader Alexei Navalny 

A man is lifted away by Russian police during protests in Moscow today, following the imprisonment of opposition leader Alexei Navalny

A man is lifted away by Russian police during protests in Moscow today, following the imprisonment of opposition leader Alexei Navalny 

An injured protester cries out during protests against the jailing of opposition leader Alexei Navalny in Moscow today

An injured protester cries out during protests against the jailing of opposition leader Alexei Navalny in Moscow today 

Riot police officers detain a man during a protest against a court ruling which ordered Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny be jailed for nearly three years, in downtown Moscow in the early hours of this morning

Riot police officers detain a man during a protest against a court ruling which ordered Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny be jailed for nearly three years, in downtown Moscow in the early hours of this morning 

Officers scramble to detain protesters during a demonstration against the two-and-a-half year jailing of opposition leader Alexei Navalny in Moscow yesterday

Officers scramble to detain protesters during a demonstration against the two-and-a-half year jailing of opposition leader Alexei Navalny in Moscow yesterday 

Protesters run during demonstrations against the jailing of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny in Moscow yesterday

Protesters run during demonstrations against the jailing of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny in Moscow yesterday 

A Navalny supporter is escorted away from protests outside the Great Hostiny Dvor Shopping Centre in downtown St Petersburg last night

A Navalny supporter is escorted away from protests outside the Great Hostiny Dvor Shopping Centre in downtown St Petersburg last night 

A man shouts as a police officer detains him during protests against the jailing of Putin foe Alexei Navalny in Moscow yesterday

A man shouts as a police officer detains him during protests against the jailing of Putin foe Alexei Navalny in Moscow yesterday 

After his sentence was read this afternoon and the 44-year-old was dragged away to the cells, British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab demanded the ‘perverse ruling’ be reversed. 

‘The UK calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Alexey Navalny and all of the peaceful protesters and journalists arrested over the last two weeks,’ said Mr Raab.

‘Today’s perverse ruling, targeting the victim of a poisoning rather than those responsible, shows Russia is failing to meet the most basic commitments expected of any responsible member of the international community.’

US President Joe Biden’s Secretary of State Antony Blinken echoed Raab’s demands, calling for his immediate release.  

‘We reiterate our call for the Russian government to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Navalny, as well as the hundreds of other Russian citizens wrongfully detained in recent weeks for exercising their rights, including the rights to freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly,’ Blinken said. 

French President Emmanuel Macron added to the growing condemnation of Russia’s actions on Twitter.  

‘The conviction of Alexei Navalny is unacceptable. A political disagreement is never a crime. We call for his immediate release. The respect for human rights such as democratic freedom are not negotiable.’

The Vladimir Putin critic was arrested last month for violating the probation terms of a 2014 embezzlement conviction.

His detention has sparked weekends of demonstrations by tens of thousands of protesters across Russia.  

A man scraps with police officers during a street gathering to protest the jailing of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny in Moscow yesterday

A man scraps with police officers during a street gathering to protest the jailing of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny in Moscow yesterday 

Riot police officers drag a man down a set of steps during an unauthorised rally in support of Alexei Navalny tonight in Moscow

Riot police officers drag a man down a set of steps during an unauthorised rally in support of Alexei Navalny tonight in Moscow 

Riot officers detain a man during demonstrations in support of Alexei Navalny, following his imprisonment of two-and-a-half years

Riot officers detain a man during demonstrations in support of Alexei Navalny, following his imprisonment of two-and-a-half years 

Protesters detained following a protest demanding the release of Alexei Navalny await their jailing in Moscow this morning

Protesters detained following a protest demanding the release of Alexei Navalny await their jailing in Moscow this morning 

Navalny supporters are detained last night following Navalny being jailed for two-and-a-half years by a Moscow court

Navalny supporters are detained last night following Navalny being jailed for two-and-a-half years by a Moscow court

Russian police drag a Navalny supporter in downtown Moscow this evening

Russian police drag a Navalny supporter in downtown Moscow this evening

Russian police detain a man in downtown Moscow this evening after the Kremlin critic was sent to prison earlier today

Russian police detain a man in downtown Moscow this evening after the Kremlin critic was sent to prison earlier today 

Detained people are seen inside a police vehicle in downtown Moscow this evening

Detained people are seen inside a police vehicle in downtown Moscow this evening 

Police escort a man from the scene of protests in downtown Moscow earlier this evening

Police escort a man from the scene of protests in downtown Moscow earlier this evening

Russian reinforced police units stand guard on the street in downtown of St. Petersburg, Russia today

Russian reinforced police units stand guard on the street in downtown of St. Petersburg, Russia today

Officers detain a man during protests after the imprisonment of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny in Moscow today

Officers detain a man during protests after the imprisonment of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny in Moscow today 

A man draped in a Russian flag walks among protesters demonstrating the jailing of opposition leader Alexei Navalny in Moscow today

A man draped in a Russian flag walks among protesters demonstrating the jailing of opposition leader Alexei Navalny in Moscow today 

Riot police officers guard Bolshaya Morskaya Street in St Petersburg today. The city authorities tightened security measures as Moscow's court sentenced Alexei Navalny to three-and-a-half years

Riot police officers guard Bolshaya Morskaya Street in St Petersburg today. The city authorities tightened security measures as Moscow’s court sentenced Alexei Navalny to three-and-a-half years 

Russian police drag a protester away in St Petersburg, Russia today. Protesters descended on Russian cities after dissident Alexei Navalny was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in a penal colony

Russian police drag a protester away in St Petersburg, Russia today. Protesters descended on Russian cities after dissident Alexei Navalny was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in a penal colony

Today, 354 Navalny supporters were hauled away by riot police as he faced down a representative of the Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) inside the Moscow courthouse. 

‘It’s easy to lock me up,’ Navalny said in his closing statement during his trial, reports The Moscow Times. ‘The main thing in this process is to intimidate a huge number of people, this is how it works. They are putting one person behind bars to scare millions.

He continued: ‘I really hope that this process will be perceived as a sign of weakness.’  

Warning Putin about his actions, Navalny added: ‘You can’t put millions and hundreds of thousands in jail — and I hope people will begin to realize that. Once they do — and this moment will come — you won’t be able to jail everyone.’ 

Navalny said the ‘elephant in the room’ is that his trial is only taking place because he ‘offended’ Putin for surviving the Novichok poisoning.   

A man scraps with police officers during protests against the jailing of Kremlin critic

A man scraps with police officers during protests against the jailing of Kremlin critic 

A riot police officer searches a man during protests against the jailing of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny in Moscow yesterday

A riot police officer searches a man during protests against the jailing of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny in Moscow yesterday 

Police pull a man's jacket over his head as they lead him away from the scene of a protest outside a St Petersburg shopping centre last night

Police pull a man’s jacket over his head as they lead him away from the scene of a protest outside a St Petersburg shopping centre last night 

Riot police detain a man involved in unauthorised protests in central Moscow last night

Riot police detain a man involved in unauthorised protests in central Moscow last night 

A man is detained by riot police in Russia today as protesters gathered to demand the release of jailed dissident Alexei Navalny

A man is detained by riot police in Russia today as protesters gathered to demand the release of jailed dissident Alexei Navalny 

Navalny supporters, and their dogs, are escorted away from the scene of a protest in downtown St Petersburg tonight

Navalny supporters, and their dogs, are escorted away from the scene of a protest in downtown St Petersburg tonight 

Russian riot police detain a participant of an unauthorised rally in central Moscow tonight

Russian riot police detain a participant of an unauthorised rally in central Moscow tonight 

Russian riot police detain a Navalny supporter after the dissident called for protests against his three-and-a-half year imprisonment

Russian riot police detain a Navalny supporter after the dissident called for protests against his three-and-a-half year imprisonment 

Russian police detain a protester in central Moscow this evening

Russian police detain a protester in central Moscow this evening 

Protesters gather in central Moscow tonight to protest the jailing of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny

Protesters gather in central Moscow tonight to protest the jailing of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny 

‘We know why this is happening,’ he said. ‘The reason is the hatred and fear of one man in a bunker. Because I offended him by surviving after they tried to kill me on his orders.

‘No matter how much [Putin] tries to pose as a geopolitician, his main resentment toward me is that he will go down in history as a poisoner.’

Mocking the Russian President, Navalny continued: ‘There was Alexander the Liberator and Yaroslav the Wise. Now we’ll have Vladimir the Poisoner of Underpants.

‘The police are guarding me and half of Moscow is cordoned off because we have shown that he is demanding to steal underwear from opponents and smear them with chemical weapons.’  

Navalny faces three-and-a-half years in jail if the judge, who is now deliberating their verdict, decides to trigger the suspended sentence handed down following his 2014 money-laundering trial.

Navalny rejects the conviction as politically motivated and believes the suspended sentence has been resurrected to gag him. 

Yulia Navalnaya, 44, the wife of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, walks into the Simonovsky District Court in Moscow on Tuesday morning

Yulia Navalnaya, 44, the wife of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, walks into the Simonovsky District Court in Moscow on Tuesday morning

Today, 311 Navalny supporters were hauled away by riot police as he faced down a representative of the Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) inside the Moscow courthouse. Pictured: A Navalny supporter is hauled into a police van by heavily armoured riot police

Today, 311 Navalny supporters were hauled away by riot police as he faced down a representative of the Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) inside the Moscow courthouse. Pictured: A Navalny supporter is hauled into a police van by heavily armoured riot police

Riot police lead a Navalny supporter towards a waiting van this morning

Riot police lead a Navalny supporter towards a waiting van this morning 

Alexei Navalny, 44, appears in court this morning accused of violating probation after he was handed a suspended sentence in 2014 for money laundering - a conviction we rejects as politically motivated

Alexei Navalny, 44, appears in court this morning accused of violating probation after he was handed a suspended sentence in 2014 for money laundering – a conviction we rejects as politically motivated

Navalny today said Vladimir Putin wants to imprison him to 'scare millions' and warned the President that 'people will realise you can't jail everyone'. Pictured: Navalny speaks with his lawyer Olga Mikhailova at the court in Moscow this morning

Navalny today said Vladimir Putin wants to imprison him to ‘scare millions’ and warned the President that ‘people will realise you can’t jail everyone’. Pictured: Navalny speaks with his lawyer Olga Mikhailova at the court in Moscow this morning

Navalny speaks with his lawyer ahead of the sentencing hearing

Navalny speaks with his lawyer ahead of the sentencing hearing

The verdict is expected to be returned at 8pm (5pm GMT) according to the Mediazona news website.   

His defence lawyer Vadim Kobsev likened Navalny’s poisoning to a ‘political Chernobyl’ and ended his speech with a quote from the TV series ‘Chernobyl’. 

He said: ‘Legasov says: ‘Dyatlov broke all the rules and brought  the reactor to self-destruction. Nobody in that control room knew that the shutdown button would act as a detonator.’ Dear judge, don’t be like Dyatlov, don’t push the button.’ 

Navalny shot down accusations he broke terms of his parole, arguing that he ‘was in a coma’ at the time.

His defence team argue that for much of the period which the penitentiary service says he was in breach, he was in a coma at the hospital in Berlin, telling the judge today that the ‘the whole world knew where he was.’ The opposition leader says he was poisoned by the Kremlin.  

The FSIN official claimed that he’d failed to supply documents to provide ‘serious reasons for not showing up’ to parole appointments in person.

‘I was in a coma!’ Navalny replied. ‘Comrade captain, do you respect the Russian President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin? … You said you don’t know where I’ve been since August. Putin said on television that thanks to him I’d been sent to Germany for treatment.’

‘I was in a coma, then I was in the ICU,’ he continued. ‘I sent you medical documents. You had my address and contacts. What else could I have done to tell you where I am? I have a lawyer and my lawyer has a telephone. How could I have informed you better?’ 

The FSIN official asked the judge to replace Navalny’s suspended sentence with a real sentence, adding they are willing to count the 12 months that he had spent under house arrest toward the sentence. This would mean he would face a maximum prison sentence of two-and-a-half years. 

‘The court showed unprecedented lenience towards Alexei Navalny despite the gravity of his crime by giving him suspended sentences,’ the official said. ‘However, Navalny, despite the humanism the court expressed toward him, continued to violate the terms of his probation.’ 

Navalny faces three-and-a-half years in jail if the judge, who is now deliberating their verdict, decides to trigger the suspended sentence handed down following his 2014 money-laundering trial

Navalny faces three-and-a-half years in jail if the judge, who is now deliberating their verdict, decides to trigger the suspended sentence handed down following his 2014 money-laundering trial

Navalny rejects the conviction as politically motivated and believes the suspended sentence has been resurrected to gag him

Navalny rejects the conviction as politically motivated and believes the suspended sentence has been resurrected to gag him

One of hundreds of Navalny supporters being detained by Russian riot police today near the Moscow City Court

 One of hundreds of Navalny supporters being detained by Russian riot police today near the Moscow City Court 

A Navalny supporter holds up his phone and wallet in the air as he is searched and detained by Russian riot police

A Navalny supporter holds up his phone and wallet in the air as he is searched and detained by Russian riot police

Russian riot police stand guard in front of the Moscow City Court house this evening as the judge considers their verdict

Russian riot police stand guard in front of the Moscow City Court house this evening as the judge considers their verdict

The case presents one of the most serious challenges to the Kremlin in years and has led to calls for new Western sanctions against Putin’s government. 

The Kremlin said today it wasn’t following the court proceedings, adding that it hoped the ‘nonsense’ would not lead the European Union to draw any ‘foolish’ conclusions.

Diplomats from the United States, Britain, Bulgaria, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and other European countries attended, according to local media.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said this ‘isn’t just meddling in the internal affairs of a sovereign state, but the self-incrimination of the West’s unsightly and illegal attempts to contain Russia.’

Navalny was seen standing inside the glass-panelled dock wearing a black hoodie as he spoke with his lawyer Olga Mikhailova. 

When asked by the judge to state where he lived, Navalny joked that he resided at the Matrosskaya Tishina prison. 

He also demanded that journalists be allowed inside the courtroom. Reporters have only been allowed to watch a live video feed from a separate room.  

Navalny’s defence say that while he was recovering from the Novichok poisoning he was unable to register with Russian authorities in person as required by the terms of his probation.

But prison officials told the court he failed to make himself known to them while going about his business in Germany. 

A representative for the Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) said: ‘Since the end of September 2020, Navalny has been in outpatient treatment. Judging by media reports, he moved freely and gave interviews.

‘He did not contact FSIN inspectors, although their phone number was posted on their website. He was put on the wanted list, as the service decided that he was systematically evading a suspended sentence.’ 

Navalny replied: ‘Comrade captain, do you respect the Russian President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin? … You said you don’t know where I’ve been since August. Putin said on television that thanks to him I’d been sent to Germany for treatment.’

‘I was in a coma, then I was in the ICU,’ he continued. ‘I sent you medical documents. You had my address and contacts. What else could I have done to tell you where I am? I have a lawyer and my lawyer has a telephone. How could I have informed you better?’

Navalny’s lawyer Vadim Kobzev added: ‘The whole country, the whole world knew where he was.’  

Law enforcement officers detain Navalny supporters close to the court building this morning

Law enforcement officers detain Navalny supporters close to the court building this morning

A woman is escorted away by riot police this morning

A woman is escorted away by riot police this morning

Police drag a demonstrator away by his arms outside the court

Police drag a demonstrator away by his arms outside the court 

Riot police push a demonstrator towards their van

Riot police push a demonstrator towards their van

Law enforcement officers detain a man outside the Moscow City Court in Moscow on Tuesday

Law enforcement officers detain a man outside the Moscow City Court in Moscow on Tuesday 

A Navalny supporter is dragged into a police van on Tuesday morning

A Navalny supporter is dragged into a police van on Tuesday morning

Russian policemen detain a Navalny supporter near the Moscow City Court building

Russian policemen detain a Navalny supporter near the Moscow City Court building

A woman is arrested outside the court this morning

A woman is arrested outside the court this morning

Russian police detain a woman close to the courtroom on Tuesday

Russian police detain a woman close to the courtroom on Tuesday

A man is led away with his hands behind his back outside the courtroom

A man is led away with his hands behind his back outside the courtroom

Navalny supporters are patted down before being loaded onto a waiting police bus

Navalny supporters are patted down before being loaded onto a waiting police bus

Navalny supporters sit inside a police bus after they were arrested outside the court

Navalny supporters sit inside a police bus after they were arrested outside the court

Navalny, who in the last decade has emerged as Putin’s most prominent domestic critic, believes the 2014 case was retribution by the authorities for his political activities.

They say the Kremlin is now resurrecting it to muzzle him. 

His arrest on January 17 sparked massive protests across Russia over the past two weekends.

Tens of thousands have taken to the streets to demand his release, chanting slogans against Putin.

Police detained more than 5,750 people during Sunday’s rallies, including more than 1,900 in Moscow, the biggest number the nation has seen since Soviet times. Some were beaten.

Most were released after being handed court summons and face fines or jail terms of between seven and 15 days.

Several people faced criminal charges over alleged violence against police.

Navalny’s team has called for another demonstration Tuesday outside the Moscow court building.

Police were deployed in force near the court building and cordoned off nearby streets, making random detentions.

While he has never held elected office, Navalny has made a name for himself with anti-graft investigations exposing the wealthy lifestyles of Russia’s elite. 

Navalny speaks with a member of his defence team

Navalny in cuffs

Navalny speaks with a member of his defence team (left) and in handcuffs (right) 

Navalny smiles at his lawyer inside the courtroom this morning

Navalny smiles at his lawyer inside the courtroom this morning

Riot police and mounted officers patrolling outside the court this morning

Riot police and mounted officers patrolling outside the court this morning

Yulia Navalny speaks to police outside the entrance to the court this morning

Yulia Navalny speaks to police outside the entrance to the court this morning

Yulia Navalny is surrounded by police and reporters outside the court in Moscow on Tuesday

Yulia Navalny is surrounded by police and reporters outside the court in Moscow on Tuesday

Riot police early this morning prepare for the arrival of Navalny and his supporters

Riot police early this morning prepare for the arrival of Navalny and his supporters

A prison truck arrives at court this morning with Navalny inside

A prison truck arrives at court this morning with Navalny inside

Navalny is seen through the bars of a prison van as he arrives at the Simonovsky District Court in Moscow

Navalny is seen through the bars of a prison van as he arrives at the Simonovsky District Court in Moscow

Two days after he was placed in pre-trial custody last month, his team released an investigation into an opulent Black Sea residence Navalny claims was given to Putin through a billion-dollar scheme financed by close associates who head state companies.

The video has been viewed over 100 million times, fuelling discontent as ordinary Russians struggle with an economic downturn and the coronavirus pandemic. 

Putin insisted last week that neither he nor his relatives own any of the properties mentioned in the video, and his long time confidant, construction magnate Arkady Rotenberg, claimed that he owns it.  

As part of efforts to crush the protests, the authorities have targeted Navalny’s associates and activists across the country.

Protesters rally in support of Navalny in Moscow on Sunday

Protesters rally in support of Navalny in Moscow on Sunday

A demonstrator in Moscow on Sunday as thousands gathered to protest against Navalny's detention

A demonstrator in Moscow on Sunday as thousands gathered to protest against Navalny’s detention

His brother Oleg, top ally Lyubov Sobol and several others were put under house arrest for two months and face criminal charges of violating coronavirus restrictions. 

The United States and the European Union have called for Navalny’s immediate release and denounced police violence on demonstrators.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell is expected to raise the issue of Navalny during a visit this week to Moscow.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has responded by saying the case is a ‘domestic affair’ and that ‘we will not allow anyone to interfere in it.’

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