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Muscovite Handed Suspended Sentence Over Navalny Rallies


Police clash with protesters during a rally in support of jailed Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny in Moscow on January 23.

MOSCOW -- A 34-year-old Moscow resident has been handed a suspended sentence for attacking a police officer during January 23 rallies in support of opposition politician Aleksei Navalny.

The Presnensky district court on March 10 said Aleksandr Muchayev pleaded guilty and was handed a suspended one-year prison sentence. No details of the case were revealed.

Earlier reports said that Muchayev was driving a car with Maria Alyokhina, a member of the Pussy Riot protest group, and opposition municipal lawmaker Lyusya Shtein inside.

When police tried to detain the two women, Muchayev drove the car into making contact with a police officer.

Muchayev is the first Moscow resident convicted on a criminal charge over the Navalny rallies in January.

On March 5, a court in the city of Vladimir sentenced 38-year-old Vitaly Timofeyenko to three years in prison for using pepper spray against a police officer during the dispersal of demonstrators in the city on January 23.

Timofeyenko admitted to using the spray, but said he did so to help another protester who was being held on the ground by police.

On March 2, a 26-year-old resident of the Volga River city of Kostroma, Aleksei Vinogradov, was sentenced to 18 months of forced labor for attacking a police officer in a similar rally on January 23.

The nationwide demonstrations held on January 23 and 31 were against the arrest of the Kremlin critic, who was detained at a Moscow airport on January 17 upon his arrival from Germany, where he was recovering from a poison attack by what several European laboratories concluded was a military-grade chemical nerve agent in Siberia in August.

Navalny has insisted that his poisoning was ordered directly by President Vladimir Putin, which the Kremlin has denied.

Last month, a Moscow court ruled that while in Germany, Navalny had violated the terms of parole from an old embezzlement case that is widely considered to be politically motivated.

His 3 1/2-year suspended sentence from that case was converted into a jail term, though the court said he will serve 2 1/2 years in prison given time he had been held in detention.

More than 10,000 supporters of Navalny were detained across Russia during and after the January rallies. Many of those detained were either fined or handed several-day jail terms. At least 90 were charged with criminal misdeeds and several have been fired by their employers.

With reporting by TASS and Mediazona
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