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“Defend yourself!” – The imprisoned Navalny calls for protests | Free press

Moscow / Berlin (dpa) – In controversial urgent proceedings in a Russian police station, a court sentenced Kremlin opponent Alexej Navalny to 30 days in prison after returning from Germany.

The 44-year-old had violated reporting requirements after a previous criminal trial, it said. The arrest is valid until February 15, Nawalny’s spokeswoman Kira Jarmysch said Monday. The Russian opposition leader criticized the process as a political staging with the aim of silencing him. He called on his supporters to protest. New arrests were made.

The EU and Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) also called on Russia to immediately release the opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin. “The Russian authorities have arrested the victim of a chemical weapons assassination attempt and not the perpetrator,” said government spokesman Steffen Seibert in Berlin. The Russian government needs to “fully” clarify the circumstances of the chemical weapons attack on Navalny and has everything necessary to do so.

In August, Navalny was the victim of an attack in Russia with the neurotoxin Novichok, which is banned as a chemical weapon and subsequently treated in Germany. He returned to Russia on Sunday and was arrested immediately after landing in Moscow. He was advertised for a search, the penal system said as the reason. During his stay in Germany, where he was recovering from the attack in Russia, the Kremlin critic is said to have violated probation in a previous criminal case.

Government spokesman Seibert recalled that the verdict, whose probation should be the basis for the arrest, was classified as arbitrary by the European Court of Human Rights in 2017. Russia was subsequently ordered to pay damages to Navalny and his brother. “To accuse Mr. Navalny of violating probation terms as a result of arbitrary judgment is against the rule of law.”

Incidentally, Navalny was recovering in Germany since the attack on him. “It is completely untenable to accuse Mr. Navalny of violating probation conditions for this period,” said Seibert. It should also be disapproved that Nawalny’s judicial hearing took place on a very short notice Monday morning and at the police station.

Navalny herself complained that no independent journalists were allowed to attend the trial. In a videotaped appeal, he called for protests against the arbitrariness of the judiciary in Russia. “Don’t be afraid, take to the streets,” he said in the negotiating room. His spokeswoman Jarmysch published a video accompanying the call. In it, Navalny accused Moscow’s power apparatus of no longer having any ties with the rule of law.

But people should take to the streets not for him, Navalny said, but for their own future – for a free Russia. The country is degenerating under the leadership of Putin, the leader of the Kremlin, who has been in power for more than 20 years, he said. “Don’t be still! Defend yourself! We are many and can achieve something.”

Such professions are repeatedly punished in Russia. Demonstrations are only possible with permission. However, due to the corona pandemic, there was no permit for a long time. Several protesters were arrested – such as on Sunday, when hundreds of people awaited the arrival of the Berlin politician at Vnukovo Airport in Moscow. In total, there were about 70 arrests in Russia on Sunday alone.

In a video on Twitter, Navalny complained that the judiciary in Russia had reached a new level of “lawlessness.” “I’ve often seen the rule of law ridiculed, but this grandpa in his bunker is now so scared … that the criminal procedure code is just being torn up and thrown in the dump,” Navalny said in the makeshift courtroom. By ‘grandfather in his bunker’ he means Putin, who mainly works via video in his Moscow suburb because of the corona pandemic. “It is impossible what is happening here.”

The Russian leadership was largely silent on the Navalny trial. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held an online press conference in Moscow, but stressed that he was not responsible for the legal side of things in Russia. That is a matter for the Russian security bodies. Nevertheless, he again urged Germany to submit evidence of Navalny poisoning. “Do your international obligations,” Lavrov said.

Russia was unable to demonstrate any poisoning with the Novichok chemical warfare agent near Navalny and is therefore not conducting an investigation. Alternatively, he suggested that Russian doctors and their Western colleagues could examine the samples together – “so that trust is built.”

Several laboratories, including one from the Bundeswehr, had discovered the neurotoxin Novitschok in Navalny’s blood. The EU therefore also imposed sanctions on representatives of the Russian power apparatus. Opposition member Navalny sees a ‘killer team’ from the Russian internal intelligence agency FSB led by Putin behind the attack on 20 August. Putin and the FSB deny the allegations.


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