UPDATED 1:28 PM PT – Tuesday, February 2, 2021
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been sentenced to two and a half years in prison. On Tuesday, a court in Moscow handed Navalny his sentence, saying he broke parole while he was in a coma recovering from a poisoning attack last summer.
The be clear: the Russian court has handed Navalny a 3.5-year prison sentence, but it will actually be 2.5 years, minus the almost one year he spent under house arrest.
— Christopher Miller (@ChristopherJM) February 2, 2021
Navalny’s attorneys said the sentence is politically motivated and came as retaliation for his latest investigations. In recent weeks, the opposition leader exposed a chemical death squad within Russia’s security services and shed light on enormous personal wealth of Vladimir Putin.
The U.S. and Britain criticized his sentencing as abuse of human rights.
“The main thing about this hearing is not how it ends for me, whether I will be jailed or not. It’s not so difficult to jail me on this or another charge. The aim of that hearing is to scare a great number of people. It works this way: jail one to scare millions,” Navalny stated. “This hearing is about jailing me for the case where I have been already found innocent, for the case which was considered falsified. This is not just my opinion. The European Court on Human Rights is part of the Russian system of law.”
Hundreds of Russians were arrested outside the Moscow courthouse on Tuesday as they rallied to demand freedom for the opposition leader.
Navalny’s attorneys now have 10 days to appeal the sentence.