The Russian public prosecutor’s office said it was in favor of the imprisonment of Alexei Navalny on Monday, on the eve of a hearing during which the opponent risks two to three years of detention and the day after the repression of demonstrations in his favor. In a statement, the prosecution deemed “legal and justified” the request of the Russian prison services (FSIN) which wants to revoke the stay of the main critic of the Kremlin for violation of his judicial control in a case dating back to 2014.
This statement testifies to the determination of the authorities, despite the demonstrations organized on Sunday for the second weekend in a row in more than a hundred cities in Russia to demand his release.
More than 5,400 arrests on Sunday
According to the NGO OVD-Info, which specializes in monitoring protests, 5,414 demonstrators have been arrested across the country, a record in recent Russian history.
Among them, more than 1,800 were arrested in Moscow where protesters and police played cat and mouse all day across the city, most of the center of which had been cordoned off, including the metro. More than 1,200 arrests were also recorded in the second city of the country, Saint Petersburg.
“We are facing an acceleration in political repression,” Leonid Drabkine, coordinator of OVD-Info, told AFP. Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov, for his part, deemed the police response justified and denounced the participation of “a fairly large number of thugs and more or less aggressive provocateurs” towards the police.
A prison sentence of three and a half years
Anti-corruption activist and sworn enemy of power, Alexeï Navalny was imprisoned on his return to Russia on January 17, after several months of convalescence in Germany for a poisoning of which he accuses President Vladimir Putin. Reason for the arrest, the violation, according to the authorities, of the conditions of a prison sentence of three and a half years suspended pronounced in 2014 and which could be transformed into a firm sentence.
Alexeï Navalny is due to appear on Tuesday and risks around two and a half years of detention, the opponent having already carried out, under house arrest, part of the sentence. His supporters called for a rally in court.
Under investigation for defamation and fraud
The 44-year-old opponent is the target of multiple legal proceedings. Friday, he is due to appear for “defamation” against a veteran. He is also implicated in an investigation for fraud, a crime punishable by ten years in prison.
At the same time, several of its allies and collaborators have been placed under house arrest, imprisoned or prosecuted in recent weeks. Some risk prison for violating anti-coronavirus “health standards” by organizing demonstrations, while others are accused of inciting minors to participate in these unauthorized gatherings.
His wife, Yulia Navalnaïa, was sentenced on Monday to a fine of 20,000 rubles (234 francs) for participating in Sunday’s demonstration in Moscow, during which she was arrested.
Unanimous international convictions
International condemnations were unanimous at the end of this repression. The head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell considered that “what is happening in Russia is unacceptable, the treatment inflicted on Navalny is unacceptable”, declared his spokesman.
He wishes to discuss these subjects with his Russian counterparts during a visit to Moscow scheduled from Thursday to Saturday, but also to meet Alexeï Navalny. “We are in contact with the team of Mr. Navalny to see what are the possibilities of such a meeting, but at this stage, I can not confirm anything”, he added.
“When preparing for a visit, you don’t insist, you try to agree with your counterparts on the program,” he stressed.