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Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny returns to jail for the third time this year

Posted: October 3, 2017 at 12:12 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Court sentences Kremlin critic to prison for third time this year – preventing his attendance at rally on Putin’s birthday

A Russian court has sentenced opposition leader Alexei Navalny to his third jail term this year, disrupting plans by the long-time Kremlin critic to campaign before Russia’s coming election.

Navalny was sentenced to 20 days in prison on Monday – so he will not be able to lead a major rally he had planned to stage in Putin’s hometown of Saint Petersburg on Saturday, when the Russian leader will celebrate his 65th birthday.

“[My sentence] is a gift to Putin for his birthday,” Navalny quipped in a Moscow courtroom.

Navalny, the charasmatic 41-year-old anti-corruption campaigner, was detained on Friday while making plans to travel to a rally in a provincial city. He was accused by police of repeatedly violating a law on organising public meetings, which is punishable by up to 30 days in jail.

Navalny has said he would like to stand for president in the election next March but the electoral authorities have said he is not eligible because he is serving a suspended sentence for fraud.

Putin, who has led Russia since 1999, is widely expected to seek and win another six-year Kremlin term. The campaign has yet to officially open.

After Navalny declared his bid he was hit by a new wave of legal obstacles and attacks and even had to travel to Spain for eye surgery after one assault left him almost blind in one eye.

Navalny has been briefly imprisoned before. He was detained before arriving at his last two rallies in Moscow on 26 March and 12 June, both of which were not authorised by the city. He served sentences of 15 days and 25 days for organising unauthorised protests.

Undeterred by the seemingly predetermined election outcome, Navalny has pressed ahead with his presidential bid and travelled around the country. He has been gathering crowds of supporters across Russia, seeking to shift public attitudes and battle political ennui in places including the Pacific port of Vladivostok and other cities.

“Old man Putin is so scared of our rallies in the regions he’s decided to make himself happy by giving himself a little gift for his birthday,” Navalny tweeted after the ruling. “It’s safer this way.”





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