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Navalny Associate Sobol's Suspended Sentence Replaced With Prison Term

Lyubov Sobol leaves a hearing at a court in Moscow in August.
Lyubov Sobol leaves a hearing at a court in Moscow in August.

A court in Moscow has switched the one-year suspended sentence handed to opposition politician Lyubov Sobol, a close associate of jailed anti-corruption campaigner Aleksei Navalny, to actual prison time.

Sobol's lawyer, Vladimir Voronin, said on December 2 that the decision was made by the Simonovsky district court in the Russian capital. He did not provide any other details.

The 34-year-old Sobol fled Russia in August, days after she was sentenced to 18 months of parole-like limits on her freedom in another case after a court in Moscow found her guilty of publicly calling for the violation of coronavirus safety precautions, a charge that has been widely used against those who were involved in countrywide protests against the jailing of Navalny, President Vladimir Putin's most vocal critic.

Media reports have said that Sobol is currently in neighboring Estonia.

In mid-April, the Magistrate court of Moscow 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, Kudryavtsev described the details of an operation to poison the Kremlin critic in August 2020.

Sobol described the court's decision as a ruling designed to silence her.

In October, Sobol was added to the database of wanted persons of the Interior Ministry, with a designation that she is "wanted under an article of the Criminal Code."

Navalny was arrested after returning to Russia from Germany in January, where he was treated for a near-fatal poisoning with a Novichok-type nerve agent that he says was ordered by Putin.

The Kremlin has denied any role in the incident, which was the latest of numerous attacks on Navalny.

In February, Navalny was convicted of violating the terms of a suspended sentence related to an embezzlement case that he has called politically motivated. The remainder of Navalny's suspended sentence, 2 1/2 years, was changed to real prison time.

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