MOSCOW – Russia’s most prominent opposition leader, Aleksei A. Navalny, appeared in court on Tuesday in a hearing that could have sentenced him to a lengthy prison sentence in the far-flung penal colony for the first time.
Russian authorities have indicated that they will not be swayed by public pressure to release Mr. Navalny, a 44-year-old anticorruption activist. He has put many of his top aides under house arrest and arrested them on Sunday Huge police force deployed in cities across Russia Protest when the last few weeks have been called for their independence.
During the hearing, Mr. Navalny said, “Thousands upon thousands cannot be closed.” “I really hope that more and more people will recognize this. And when they recognize it – and that moment will come – it will all fall apart, because you cannot shut down the whole country. “
Anticipating more protests on Tuesday, the surrounding Moscow neighborhood saw a massive presence of riot police officers in body armor, camouflage and black helmets. Officers stood in front of the entrance to the nearest metro station and checked the documents of the people, and the parking lots around the station were filled with police vans for reinforcement. According to activist group OVD-Info, police detained at least 237 people.
The court weighed the prosecution’s charge that Mr. Navalny had violated parole on a suspended prison sentence of three and a half years in 2014. He and his brother were convicted of stealing approximately $ 500,000 for two companies, a conviction at the European Human Rights Court Called “arbitrary and manifestly unfair”.
Mr. Navalny and his colleagues, along with several independent analysts, President Vladimir V. Putin sees his prosecution as an attempt to silence his biggest critic.
Under the terms of that prior sentence, officials say Mr. Navalny had to check in with jail officials at least twice a month. But prosecutors allege that he repeatedly failed to do so last year, including forcing him out of a Berlin hospital in September after recovering from an assassination attempt.
At the end of the hearing, Mr. Navalny gave a furious speech in the courtroom, in which he blamed Mr. Putin for trying to shut him down. He said the Russian president was angry that Mr Navalny survived after eating poison in August with military-grade nerve agent Novichok, in which he and Western officials Described as state assassination attempt.
Mr. Navalny has accused Russia’s domestic intelligence agency of trying to kill him at Mr. Putin’s orders by applying Novichok in the opponent’s underwear. The Kremlin has denied involvement in the poisoning.
“His main resentment against me is that he will go down in history as a poison,” Mr. Navalny said of Mr. Putin. “There was Alexander the Liberator and Yaroslav the Wise. Now we will have poison underpants of Vladimir. “
Mr Navalny’s colleagues have said only street protests can force the Kremlin to change course, and Tens of thousands of people took out a rally for Mr. Navalni Each of the last two weekends in cities across Russia.
At the outset of the hearing, Mr. Navalny – limited to a glass box for defendants, as is typical in Russia – often smiled and maintained his sense of humor. When Judge Natalia Reppnikova asked him to introduce herself, she replied, “Your honor, you forgot to introduce yourself.”
When Ms. Repnikova asked for her current address, she said: “Pre-trial detention facility number 1”.
During a break in the proceedings, Mr. Navalny, slapping and in a dark hoodie, runs back and forth in his box. At one point he saw the depiction of the French philosopher Montesque and other publishers on the wooden panel wall of the grand court.
The prosecution called for three-and-a-half years in prison for Mr. Navalny, the amount of time he spent under the House arrest related to the case was about a year. The prosecutor, Yekaterina Frailova, said Mr Navalny was guilty of “systematic violation of the obligations imposed on him by the court”.
Mr. Navalny repeatedly called her “a respectable daughter of the regime” while repeatedly tricking Ms. Frulva, but then said, “You lie in every word.” He said that he was being prosecuted for intimidating the millions of other Russians who were arising against Mr. Putin.
The choreography of the hearing was designed to illustrate the process given to Mr. Navalny. Authorities shifted the hearing from a court outside Moscow to a larger part of the city – in order, he said, to allow more journalists to appear.
Two carved judicial scales threw the Russian double-headed eagle over the rubber judge. Ms. Repnikova, the judge examining her arguments, presented the prosecution with pointed questions. Mr. Navalny was allowed to make his fiery speech, and criticize the judge and prosecutor with some interruptions. But proceedings on journalists were barred from filming or taking pictures.
The prosecution’s case of sending Mr. Navalny to prison was heavily dependent on technicalities. An officer of the Prison Service, Alexander Yarmolin, reads in a soft voice from a pile of papers detailing Mr. Navalny’s alleged parole violation. Prosecutors said the violations began last August before Mr. Navalny’s poisoning.
At one point Mr. Yarmolyn cited online posts stating that Mr. Navalny was roaming freely throughout Germany, not reporting for his parole last year. On another point, the prosecutor, Yekaterina Frailova, responded to an argument with Mr. Navalny’s lawyers over the issue of the day of the week on which the defendants contacted parole officers.
“people. 9 was a Thursday, which has nothing to do with Monday, ”the prosecutor said.
Mr. Navalny and his attorneys had a long time with the prosecution, insisting that they expressed their inability to personally inform parole officers of their inability to eat poison. Mr Navalny noted that even Mr Putin had publicly referred to Mr Navalny’s treatment in Germany last year.
Mr. Navalny was confined to several house arrests in 2014 and was sentenced to several weeks in jail at a time. Until now, however, he never served a long prison sentence.
Analysts say the Kremlin has long reckoned that Mr Navalny could be more than an obligation behind bars – as Russia’s foremost political prisoner – by walking freely as an often-controversial opposition activist.
Mr. This thinking has changed with Mr. Navalny’s prominence as the Russian public’s frustration with Putin increases.
After eating his poison, Mr. Navalny is taken into a coma to Berlin, where he is referred. He returned to Moscow last month, even though Russian authorities made it clear that he would face years in prison.
Upon arrival he was imprisoned, after which his team released a report from Mr. Navalny describing a secret palace built for Putin. Report More than 100 million views have been viewed on YouTube, activating the pro-Naval protests and underlining the opposition leader’s ability to reach a vast audience on Russia’s mostly free internet.
The Kremlin on Tuesday again sought to downplay the importance of Mr Navalny’s case, warning the European Union’s top foreign policy official, Josep Borel Fontales, who is issuing a warning to visit Moscow this week .
Kremlin spokesman Dimitri S. “We hope that the future of Russian-European relations will be nothing like tying up in the case of this pre-trial detention center resident,” Peskov said.
Ivan Nechepurenko Contributed to reporting.