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Release And Catch: Russia's Navalny Freed, Then Sentenced To 20 Additional Days In Jail


Russian police officers detain opposition leader Aleksei Navalny outside the detention center in Moscow on the morning of September 24.
Russian police officers detain opposition leader Aleksei Navalny outside the detention center in Moscow on the morning of September 24.

Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny has been sentenced to 20 days in jail for organizing an opposition protest in a new court ruling on September 24, the day he was freed after spending a month behind bars, his spokeswoman said.

"Twenty days," Navalny's spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said on Twitter, in reference to the 20 additional days he will spend behind bars for allegedly violating legislation restricting public gatherings.

Navalny's associate, Leonid Volkov, said that he was taken to a police station in Moscow as he walked out of a detention center on the morning of September 24.

"They opened the door – and put him on the bus immediately," Volkov tweeted.

German broadcaster Deutsche Welle's Russian service tweeted the video of the moment.

Navalny was taken to a Moscow police precinct and faces a hearing later in the day on an administrative charge of violating legislation on public gatherings in a way that causes damage to health or property, Yarmysh said on Twitter. He could be jailed for 20 days or fined up to 300,00 rubles ($4,500).

"The possible punishment under this article is up to 20 days, but of course this is a clear move toward fabricating a new criminal case," Volkov tweeted.

Amnesty International called Navalny "a prisoner of conscience [who] has not committed any crime."

"The Russian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release him, and fully respect his right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly," Natalia Zviagina, director of the London-based rights group's office in Russia, said in a statement.

Navalny has been handed suspended prison sentences following guilty verdicts in two financial-crimes trials he and his supporters contend were Kremlin-orchestrated efforts to punish him for his opposition activity and for reports he has published alleging corruption among President Vladimir Putin's allies.

While the suspended sentences kept him out of prison, Navalny has repeatedly been arrested and jailed for what courts have ruled were administrative offenses.

According to Yarmysh, he has spent 172 days behind bars since 2011 and 120 days since the start of his attempt to campaign for the March 2018 presidential election. Electoral authorities barred him from the ballot, citing his controversial criminal convictions, and Putin won a fourth term in the election.

In August, Navalny was detained by police in Moscow and sentenced to 30 days in jail for helping to organize a street rally in the Russian capital in January. That punishment came under a different section of the same article in Russia's Administrative Violations Code.

That demonstration in Moscow, along with similar protests in other Russian cities, drew thousands of people dismayed by the prospect of six more years under Putin, who was first elected president in 2000 and secured a fourth term in a March 2018 vote.

Navalny has said his jail sentence was designed by the authorities to prevent him from leading protests against unpopular pension reforms across the country earlier this month.

More than 1,000 people were detained nationwide during those rallies.

A vocal foe of Putin, Navalny has organized large street protests on several occasions and published a series of reports alleging corruption in Russia's ruling elite.

The government's proposal to raise the retirement age has stoked widespread anger across the country and has undermined Putin’s popularity.

Lawmakers are currently preparing the draft legislation for a second reading in the lower house of parliament, the State Duma.

With reporting by DW
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