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Russian Man Gets Four Years For Attacking Police At Pro-Navalny Rally, Says He Wasn't A Participant

Yevgeny Yesenov in court earlier this year
Yevgeny Yesenov in court earlier this year

MOSCOW -- A court in Moscow has sentenced an activist to four years in prison for allegedly attacking a police officer during unsanctioned rallies supporting jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny in January.

On May 20, the Tver district court found Yevgeny Yesenov guilty of punching a police officer at least five times during a pro-Navalny rally on January 23. He was sentenced the same day.

Yesenov pleaded guilty to the charge but said that he just happened to be in the area and was not a participant in the rally, nor "does not support the views of its organizers." It was not clear why he attacked the policeman.

Yesenov is one of several people who have been handed prison terms or suspended sentences in recent weeks for attacking police during the nationwide demonstrations held in January against Navalny's arrest.

Navalny 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.

In February, 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 have been politically motivated. Navalny's 3 1/2-year suspended sentence from the case was converted to 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 the detained men and women 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 MBKh Media

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