A Moscow court sent Alexey Navalny to prison for more than two and a half years on Tuesday, closing a heated hearing in which the Kremlin critic ridiculed claims he broke his parole conditions while recovering from poisoning, and denounced Russia’s leader as "Putin the poisoner."
The decision is likely to inflame anger among Navalny’s supporters, as tens of thousands of Russians have turned out for protests over the past two weekends, many demanding the activist’s release. His allies had already called for another round of nationwide demonstrations this weekend.
Navalny was detained two weeks ago upon his return to Moscow from Berlin, where he spent several months recovering from poisoning with nerve agent Novichok. He blames the attack on Russian security services and on President Vladimir Putin himself, accusations that the Kremlin has repeatedly denied.
The court on ruled that while Navalny was out of the country, he violated probation from a 2014 embezzlement case in which he had received a three-and-a-half year suspended sentence and five years of probation. Navalny describes the case politically motivated.
His suspended sentence will now be replaced with a prison term. The judge took into account the 11 months Navalny had already spent under house arrest as part of the decision.
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