Russian opposition leader Navalny locked up for 30 days in a hearing he described as ‘the highest degree of lawlessness.’

Monitoring Desk

MOSCOW — A Russian court ruled that Alexei Navalny be jailed for 30 days following his return home after recovering from a near-fatal poisoning.

The decision to keep the Kremlin critic in pre-trial detention brought to an end an unconventional, impromptu court hearing inside a police station in Khimki, north of Moscow, where Navalny was held overnight without access to a lawyer.

Other than a handful of pro-Kremlin media, the hearing was closed to journalists and the public.

In a video posted on social media from the courtroom on Monday morning, Navalny accused the authorities of “lawlessness of the highest degree.” In a video response following the ruling, Navalny urged his supporters to take to the streets. “Don’t go out for me, go out for yourself and your future,” he said.

The sentence means Navalny will remain in detention at least until a court hearing later this month, when he could be handed a 3.5-year prison sentence.

Russia’s prison service last week warned Navalny would be detained upon setting foot on Russian soil for supposedly breaching the terms of a suspended sentence in an embezzlement case dating back to 2014. 

The Kremlin critic was escorted away by officers in black masks at passport control on Sunday evening, shortly after his plane from Germany was re-routed to Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport. 

The last-minute diversion meant some 2,000 of his followers who had come to Vnukovo Airport, where his plane had been scheduled to land, were left out in the -20 degrees Celsius cold. 

Navalny was airlifted to Germany in the summer after suffering a near-fatal attack with a military-grade nerve agent from the Novichok group. The opposition politician has pointed the finger at Russian President Vladimir Putin for ordering the attack — the Kremlin denies all responsibility.

Several EU countries have denounced Navalny’s detention and demand his immediate release. 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday dismissed the criticism as “artificial resonance” meant to distract from the West’s own “deep crisis of the liberal development model.”

Courtesy: Politico