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Russian Court Considers 3.5 Years Jail Term For Navalny

Russian court on Tuesday convened to consider the detention of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny for up to three and a half years in a case that sparked protests across the country and talks of a new Western sanctions.

The Moscow court hearing came after many Russians took to  the streets across the country on Sunday, chanting slogans against President Vladimir Putin and demanding freedom for Navalny, who was detained last month on his return from Germany, where he was treated for an alleged nerve agent attack.

Navalny’s allies called for protesters to gather outside the court on Tuesday in a show of support for the 44-year-old. “Without your help, we won’t be able to resist the lawlessness of the authorities,” the politician’s team said in a social media post.

Russian police detained 112 people as they gathered near the court, the OVD-Info protest monitoring group said.

The reported developments came after more than 5,400 protesters were detained by authorities during Sunday’s demonstrations, according to OVD-Info.

The jailing of Navalny and the crackdown on protests have prompted international outrage and set off renewed talk of Western sanctions on Russia.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted that Washington “condemns the persistent use of harsh tactics against peaceful protesters and journalists by Russian authorities for a second week straight”. He also urged the release of Navalny and those detained “for exercising their human rights.”

Moscow rejected Blinken’s call as “crude interference in Russia’s internal affairs” and accused Washington of trying to destabilise the situation by backing what it called illegal protests.

The German government has also called for the immediate release of the arrested protesters, as well as Navalny. It “condemns the use of force by Russian security forces and the once again disproportionate action against peacefully demonstrating citizens,” government spokeswoman Martina Fietz said.

France meanwhile has urged Germany to scrap the Nordstream II gas pipeline project with Russia in protest against Navalny’s detention.


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