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Russian prison demands jail time for dissident Navalny

January 12, 2021

The prominent Kremlin critic says Russian prison authorities have asked a Moscow court to order him put behind bars for violating a suspended sentence. His supporters say it is a move to block his return from Germany.

Alexei Navalny in Moscow
Alexei Navalny is one of Russian President Vladimir Putin's fiercest criticsImage: Getty Images/AFP/K. Kudryavtsev

Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny said Tuesday that Russian prison authorities are seeking his incarceration for allegedly breaching the terms of a suspended sentence and probation he received as part of a 2014 embezzlement case.

"Putin is so enraged that I survived his poisoning that he ordered FSIN [Federal Prison Service] to go to court and demand that my suspended sentence is changed to a real one," Navalny wrote on Twitter, while providing a screen shot of the legal request filed Monday with a Moscow court.

Navalny's supporters say the Kremlin is using the threat of jail to prevent him from returning to Russia from Germany, where he is currently recovering after being poisoned with a nerve agent in August 2020.A staunch critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Navalny claims the Russian security service carried out the poisoning on Putin's behalf. Navalny was transported to a Berlin hospital where he spent weeks in a coma. The Kremlin has denied involvement.

Russian President Putin
Putin has said if Russia poisoned Navalny 'he'd be dead' Image: Alexei Nikolsky/AP Photo/picture alliance

Navalny rejects fraud charges

In December, the FSIN ordered Navalny to immediately return to Moscow and fulfil the conditions of a suspended sentence.

However, Navalny maintains his conviction in 2014 was politically motivated and notes that the European Court for Human Rights has also ruled the conviction as unlawful.

He also points out the suspended sentence was to end on December 30, thus rendering the request moot.

Putin critic

As a prominent opposition politician, Navalny had amassed widespread support in Russia by objecting to Putin's policies.

"They seem to be in hysterics wondering what else to do to prevent Navalny from returning to Russia,'' his spokeswoman, Kira Yarmysh, said on Twitter.

Navalny has said that he plans to return to Russia after he is fully recovered. 

wmr/rt (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)