Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny jailed, declares Putin 'the Underwear Poisoner'

Thursday, 04 Feb, 2021

In 2014, a Russian court handed Navalny a three-and-a-half year suspended sentence for allegedly embezzling funds of French cosmetics company Yves Rocher.

Mass protests in more than one hundred cities across Russian Federation were sparked by Navalny's arrest in a Moscow airport last month on arrival from Germany where he was recovering after being poisoned in August.

A Moscow court on Tuesday sentenced Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny to two years and eight months in a prison colony.

He smiled and shrugged as the judge said he had violated parole terms on a suspended sentence for embezzlement. You had the address, my contact details.

Senator Payne reaffirmed calls for Russian Federation to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation into Navalny's poisoning using the banned Novichok nerve agent last August.

Navalny accuses Putin of running an administration riddled with corruption, and recently released a YouTube video featuring an opulent Black Sea palace which, he alleged, was a Russian billionaires' gift to the president. "We all remember Alexander the Liberator and Yaroslav the Wise", Mr. Navalny said. "Then I offended him even more by refusing to live in hiding". "Now we'll have Vladimir the Poisoner of Underpants", referring to how an FSB operative was allegedly found to have hidden poison that was used on Navalny in his underwear.

The presence in Mr. Navalny's bloodstream of Novichok, a class of nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union, has been confirmed by laboratories in Germany, France and Sweden, as well as by the global Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

Tuesday's hearing opened under a heavy security presence, with riot police securing the court building and cordoning off the general area with police vehicles, trucks and vans.

Protesters were also detained in St. Petersburg.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in 2017 ruled that Navalny's 2014 conviction was "arbitrary and unreasonable". His lawyers also presented a letter from Berlin's Charite Clinic showing that he was in rehabilitation up until his return to Russian Federation. Navalny should be released immediately.

Police brutally beat scores of peaceful protesters and used tasers against some in a show of force apparently meant to intimidate the opposition.

OVD-Info, a group that monitors arrests and opposition protests, said more than 280 people including journalists had been seized by police. 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.

Hundreds of Russians were arrested outside the Moscow courthouse on Tuesday as they rallied to demand freedom for the opposition leader.

"Yulia, they show you on TV and keep talking about your radical behavior".

"It's easy to lock me up", Navalny continued, "the main thing in this process is to intimidate a huge number of people, this is how it works".

Navalny's allies have already called for another round of nationwide demonstrations next weekend.