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World

18. 01. 2021. 00:00   >>  15:54 0

NEAR MOSCOW

Hearing into detention of Alexei Navalny begins in police station

A Russian judge has begun a hearing into the detention of Alexei Navalny at a makeshift courtroom inside a police station as EU member states threatened new sanctions against Moscow if the opposition activist was not released.

Mr Navalny was detained by police at Moscow’s main airport on Sunday evening after returning from Germany where he had recovered from an assassination attempt blamed on the Kremlin, sparking widespread condemnation from western governments.

 

With independent media barred from entering the improvised courtroom and his own lawyer only informed of the hearing minutes before it began, Russia’s prison service asked that president Vladimir Putin’s most vocal critic be jailed for allegedly breaching the terms of his suspended sentence from a 2014 fraud conviction.

 

“It is impossible, what is happening here is the highest degree of lawlessness,” Mr Navalny said in a video filmed as the hearing began and posted on Twitter by his spokesperson. “They just defiantly tore up the criminal code and threw into the trash.”

Mr Navalny’s supporters say his arrest is designed to prevent him from campaigning ahead of critical parliamentary elections in September, with Mr Putin’s ruling party polling at record lows.

 

Authorities told the court, hastily assembled in the police station where Mr Navalny was held overnight, that he missed judicial meetings last year mandated under his 2014 conviction, arguing that as a result the three-and-a-half-year suspended sentence should be converted to jail time. The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the 2014 conviction was politically motivated.

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