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Russia: Court sentences Navalny's brother in connection with protests

Oleg Navalny was accused of calling for mass protests in solidarity with his brother, jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. Russia has clamped down on demonstrations during the coronavirus pandemic.

Oleg Navalny

Oleg Navalny is a staunch supporter of his brother, Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny

The brother of jailed Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny was handed a one-year suspended sentence by a Moscow court on Friday for defying coronavirus regulations by calling for protests.

The latest development follows on the heels of Navalny's top ally, Lyubov Sobol, who was convicted on similar charges earlier this week.

What was the court's ruling?

The Preobrazhensky District Court found 38-year-old Oleg Navalny guilty of calling for mass protests in January, which were organized in support of his brother.

Oleg Navalny's lawyers plan to appeal the ruling, according to the Russian state-run RIA Novosti outlet. 

Oleg Navalny was previously detained in January over the charges and put under house arrest. 

Russian government cracking down on opposition

The Russian government has cracked down on unauthorized protests over what officials say is an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Several other Russian opposition figures have been handed criminal sentences for similar reasons.

Watch video 02:47

Russia: Alexei Navalny supporters fired from state jobs

Navalny ally Nikolai Lyaskin was sentenced to one year of restricted movement on Friday for supporting the demonstrations.

Lyaskin said he is unable to leave his home from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. due to the ruling and is also not able to attend large public events. In addition, he said he is barred from leaving Moscow. 

Opposition figure and Navalny associate Lyubov Sobol was also convicted on the same charges this week and was sentenced to 1.5 years of parole-like restrictions. 

Sobol has said the charges are politically motivated.

Why is Alexei Navalny in prison?

Navalny was sentenced to at least 2 1/2 years in prison in February for breaking the rules of his probation linked to a 2014 ruling. Navalny believes the charges are politically motivated due to his criticism of the Russian government and President Vladimir Putin. 

Watch video 03:23

Russia moves to brand critics as 'extremists'

Navalny returned to Russia in January, after receiving medical treatment at a Berlin hospital. Navalny has accused Russia's domestic intelligence agency FSB of poisoning him last summer with nerve agent Novichok. 

The Russian government has also officially labeled Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation an "extremist" group, with the Moscow prosecutor office forcing its network of regional offices to halt activities.

wd/rs (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)