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Kremlin critic in jail, 1,400 detained

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Alexei Navalny. HANDOUT / MOSCOW CITY COURT PRESS SERVICE / AFP

Kremlin critic in jail, 1,400 detained

More than 1,400 protesters were detained by Russian authorities during rallies supporting Alexei Navalny, a civil monitoring group said on February 3, after the Kremlin’s most prominent critic was jailed for nearly three years amid international condemnation.

Judge Natalya Repnikova on February 2 ordered a 2014 suspended three-and-a-half-year sentence that the 44-year-old anti-corruption campaigner – who accuses Moscow of poisoning him last year – received on fraud charges to be changed to time in a penal colony, an AFP journalist at the courthouse said.

Navalny was accused of violating parole conditions by refusing to check in with prison officials and was arrested when he flew back to Moscow on January 17 from Germany, where he spent months recovering from a poisoning.

He said it was impossible to make the appointments while abroad, but the judge said he had skipped meetings prior to the poisoning.

Navalny had spent time under house arrest after the 2014 conviction – which was denounced by the European Court of Human Rights – and Repnikova said that would count as time served.

His lawyer Olga Mikhailova said he would now serve around two years and eight months in prison.

His legal team plan to appeal, she added, with Navalny expected to stay in detention in Moscow during that process.

Britain, France, Germany, the US and the EU denounced the ruling and called for his immediate release, as Moscow accused the West of interfering in its affairs.

By early on February 3, 1,408 people had been detained across Russian cities – mostly in Moscow and St Petersburg – the civil monitoring group OVD-Info said. Many were detained before Navalny’s sentence.

Navalny’s supporters had earlier called for more demonstrations against the decision after thousands joined nationwide protests against his arrest over the last two weekends.

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