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Russia ignores appeals, sends Alexei Navalny to prison

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Alexei Navalny was stopped by police on Sunday night at passport control as he landed in Moscow from Berlin, where he’d gone for treatment after falling ill in August that he and western governments believe resulted from poisoning carried out by the Kremlin.

Agencies, Moscow

PUBLISHED ON JAN 19, 2021 03:16 AM IST

Defying US and European calls to free opposition leader Alexei Navalny, a Russian court on Monday jailed him for 30 days, a day after detaining him upon arrival from Germany where he had undergone treatment for a poisoning attack.

He faces three and a half years in prison at a hearing set for January 29 on charges of violating the terms of a suspended sentence. In a makeshift courtroom in a police station outside Moscow, a judge spelt out the violations made by Navalny, 44, who will be held until February 15.

Navalny was stopped by police on Sunday night at passport control as he landed in Moscow from Berlin, where he’d gone for treatment after falling ill in August that he and western governments believe resulted from poisoning carried out by the Kremlin. His detention threatens a new round of tensions with the West as well as demonstrations across Russia.

In a video appeal recorded in the courtroom on Monday, he called on supporters to protest. “Don’t be scared. Come out on the streets – not for me but for yourselves and your future,” he said. Allies said they will seek to organise protests nationally on January 23. They will defy authorities’ refusal for permits.

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Before the ruling, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen urged Russia to “immediately” release Navalny and ensure his safety, adding her voice to similar calls from the US, UK and Germany. “Detention of political opponents is against Russia’s international commitments,” she said in a statement on Monday.

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