Alexei Navalny, the Russian opposition leader, was taken to court in Moscow on Tuesday under heavy guard where he defiantly pronounced his persecution as a sign of President Putin’s weakness.
The Moscow court sentenced Alexei Navalny to two years and eight months in a prison colony in an act that sees Vladimir Putin’s crackdown on Russia’s leading opposition candidates.
Navalny, has in the past accused the Russian president of stealing billions, was jailed for violating the parole conditions arising from sentence for embezzlement in 2014, a case he believes to have been politically motivated.
Several hundred Navalny supporters marched in central Moscow following the verdict. Riot police in full body armour blocked off Moscow city court, and several surrounding streets, before the hearing on alleged parole violations.
Videos on social media and local media showed police hitting protesters with staves. More than 1,000 people were arrested across Russia during the course of the day, according to the independent monitoring group OVD-info.
The decision of the court only reinforces how much Navalny is seen as a threat to Putin’s government, as he is now probably the most prominent political prisoner in Russia since the 2005 jailing sentence passed on the oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
Ahead of the verdict, Navalny looked across the court room to his wife Yuliya, and traced a heart on the glass around the dock.
Mr Navalny came to international prominence by organizing demonstrations and running for office to advocate reforms against corruption in Russia, and was described as “the man Vladimir Putin fears most” by The Wall Street Journal. Navalny was a Russian Opposition Coordination Council member. Mr Navalny is the founder of the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) and the leader of the “Russia of the Future” party.
Below is a video from Alexei’s YouTube Channel on “Putin’s Palace. History of world’s largest bribe”