'You can't arrest millions' Russian court sentences opposition leader Navalny
“I will continue to fight,” said the leader of the Russian opposition, Alexei Navalny, at a court hearing that sentenced him to 2 years and 8 months in prison. During the trial in Moscow, hundreds of opposition supporters were detained.
Alexei Navalny urged his supporters not to give up and ‘fight against the regime.‘
By a court decision, Alexei Navalny’s conditional sentence was replaced with 3.5 years in a general regime colony. But at the same time, it was taken into account the time he had already spent under house arrest, and reduced the term to 2 years and 8 months.
Navalny, who miraculously survived after being poisoned with a nerve agent similar to Novichok, was arrested immediately after returning to Russia from Germany, where he had been receiving treatment.
He was previously sentenced to probation on charges of fraud and embezzlement, and a court in Moscow considered that he had violated probation rules when he did not come to be registered as a probationer while in Germany.
The entire center of Moscow at the time of the trial was blocked by the security forces; representatives of 18 states were present at the trial.
Navalny and his lawyers denied the accusation, noting that he had not broken the rules, and in the case in which he was being tried, he had already been acquitted by the European Court of Human Rights.
Navalny: “this is a demonstration of weakness”
Speaking in court, Navalny accused the Russian regime and personally President Vladimir Putin of persecuting and attempting to assassinate him.
“It’s already 2021, but they continue to judge me in this case with the stubbornness of a maniac … Someone really wants me not to take a single step as a free person. The reason for this is the hatred and fear of one person living in a bunker. Because I survived after his order,” Navalny said.
“It turned out that the only way to cope with a political opponent who has no access to television, no political party is to kill him. He will go down in history as a poisoner. We had Yaroslav the Wise, and now we’ll have Vladimir the Underpants Poisoner.”
“The main thing in this process is not how it will end…the main aim is to intimidate a huge number of people. One is imprisoned to frighten millions,” Navalny said.
According to him, “this is a demonstration of weakness. You cannot plant millions. I really hope that people will be aware of this. And this moment will come.”
He called on the citizens of Russia not to obey the authorities and are not afraid of them.
Riot police on Red Square
During the trial, security officials detained more than 350 people who came to support Navalny.
The central squares in Moscow and St. Petersburg were blocked by the police and the National Guard. The detention of activists continued after the court session.
Fearing protests, the authorities closed off many central streets in Moscow.
Nevertheless, supporters of the opposition continued to take to the streets in the evening.
Mass protests demanding the release of Navalny took place throughout Russia on January 23 and 31.