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Navalny Ally Sobol's Appeal Of Suspended Sentence Denied

Lyubov Sobol arrives at the court in Moscow on June 8.
Lyubov Sobol arrives at the court in Moscow on June 8.

MOSCOW -- A court in Moscow has upheld a one-year correctional-labor sentence for Lyubov Sobol, a lawyer for jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), on trespassing charges that she has described as a move to silence her.

Before the Perovsky district court announced its decision to uphold the sentence on June 8, Sobol reiterated in the courtroom that the case against her was politically motivated, as she had not committed any crime.

According to Russian law, those handed a suspended sentence of correctional labor must pay the State Treasury a certain amount of their salary if they are employed. If they are unemployed, they must work at jobs defined by the Federal Penitentiary Service during the term of their sentence.

But the suspended sentence can also be turned into real prison time if she violates the terms of the court.

The Magistrate Court of Moscow on April 15 found Sobol guilty of illegally forcing her way into the apartment of Federal Security Service (FSB) officer Konstantin Kudryavtsev in December 2020, hours after Navalny had published a recording of what he said was a phone conversation with Kudryavtsev.

During the 49-minute phone call, in which Navalny posed as an FSB official conducting an internal review, described the details of an operation to poison the Kremlin critic in August.

Investigators say Sobol pushed Kudryavtsev's mother-in-law, who opened the door and forcefully entered the apartment.

Sobol rejected the charge, saying she had not pushed Kudryavtsev's mother-in-law, but went to the apartment to meet Kudryavtsev to ask him about his conversation with Navalny.

Her team has described the case as political "revenge" for a lawyer not being afraid to ask questions of an alleged assassin.

Navalny was arrested on January 17 upon his return to Russia from Germany, where he received life-saving treatment for the poisoning attack in Siberia in August.

Navalny has insisted that his poisoning with a Soviet-style chemical nerve agent was ordered directly by the Russian President Vladimir Putin. The FSB and the Kremlin have denied any role in the poisoning.

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 as being politically motivated.

His 3 1/2-year suspended sentence from the case was converted to a jail term, though the court said he will serve just over 2 1/2 years in prison given time already served in detention.

The United States and European Union have imposed sanctions on Russia over the Navalny affair and crackdown on protesters.

In March, Sobol said she plans to run for parliament's lower chamber, the State Duma, in September elections.

On June 7, a Moscow court prolonged the curfew for Sobol imposed on her and several other Navalny associates and supporters in another case, potentially undermining her campaign for parliament.

The curfew bars Sobol from leaving her home between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. It was imposed after she helped lead unsanctioned rallies on January 21 to protest Navalny’s incarceration.

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