Alexei Navalny appears in court by video link in Moscow

Alexei Navalny says he has been denied one-on-one meeting with his lawyer as he appears in court after his brother and other top allies were rounded up by Russian police

  • Navalny appeared in court by video-link in an appeal against his 30-day jail term
  • He faces a potential 3.5-year prison term in a case to be decided next week 
  • His brother Oleg Navalny and other aides were arrested in early overnight raids

Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny appeared in court by video-link today to appeal against his arrest and imprisonment on his return to Russia, after his brother and several of his allies were taken into custody in overnight police raids. 

Navalny claimed he had been denied one-on-one access to his lawyer since his arrest at a Moscow airport on January 17. 

The opposition leader is appealing against his 30-day prison term for alleged parole violations, but also faces the prospect of three-and-a-half years in prison if a suspended sentence is converted to jail time at a separate hearing next week. 

It comes after his brother Oleg Navalny and prominent aide Lyubov Sobol were among those detained for 48 hours and questioned overnight after a series of raids. 

Protesters egged on by Navalny held rallies across the country last weekend to support the Putin critic, who had returned from Germany after last summer’s Novichok attack which he blames on the Kremlin. 

Alexei Navalny appears by video-link at a Moscow court hearing today where he is appealing against his 30-day jail term for alleged parole violations 

Police make an arrest early on Thursday in a Moscow apartment block where authorities searched a flat belonging to Navalny’s wife Yulia  

Navalny’s aides said the police raids were linked to a criminal probe over alleged coronavirus violations during the protests last week. 

As well as Oleg Navalny and Lyubov Sobol, police arrested medical doctor Anastasia Vasilyeva from the Navalny-baked Alliance of Doctors and Maria Alyokhina from the Pussy Riot punk collective.  

Searches were also carried out at the flat of Navalny’s wife Yulia, and in the office of FBK, Navalny’s organisation, which is known for its investigations into Russia’s elites.

Also today, Russia said it had opened a criminal probe against Navalny’s top strategist Leonid Volkov, accusing him of encouraging minors to join illegal rallies.  

Volkov, who lives in Germany, rejected the charges. 

More than 3,900 people were detained last Saturday at the unsanctioned rallies in more than 100 cities, which have sparked a series of criminal investigations. 

The opposition has called for fresh demonstrations on Sunday to demand freedom for the 44-year-old activist. 

One protest is due to take place in Moscow outside the headquarters of the FSB, the security agency accused of carrying out the nerve agent attack on Navalny.  

According to Mediazona, a news website that focuses on opposition detentions, police carried out at least 18 separate searches on Wednesday.   

A Russian police officer walks through a door outside Navalny’s apartment in Moscow during raids on Thursday morning 

The opposition leader’s brother Oleg Navalny, pictured, was among those arrested for 48 hours and questioned overnight 

Officials have also threatened to fine social media including Instagram, Twitter and TikTok for failing to delete posts urging young people to join illegal rallies. 

Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Thursday that the state did not want social networks to become ‘platforms to announce illegal protests’. 

‘Law enforcement agencies are doing their job,’ Peskov said of the latest police raids. ‘There were numerous violations of Russian laws, and law enforcement agencies are at work.’ 

Asked if their refusal to remove such content could prompt Russian authorities to block them, Peskov responded it would be up to relevant government agencies. 

‘All pros and cons will be weighed and, if necessary, measures envisaged by the law will be taken,’ he said.

Earlier this week, Russia’s state communications watchdog Roskomnadzor said it would fine Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube and two Russian social networks for their failure to block calls on minors to join Saturday’s protests. 

A court in Moscow will consider Navalny’s appeal against his imprisonment for parole violations, a punishment handed down at a makeshift court last week. 

Russian authorities accuse Navalny of violating by parole by lingering in Germany after he had recovered from the poisoning. 

The potential three-and-a-half-year prison term relates to a 2014 conviction for embezzlement which Navalny says was based on trumped-up charges.   

Baton-wielding police clash with protesters during a rally in support of Navalny in Moscow last weekend, one of many such demonstrations across Russia 

Vladimir Putin, pictured on a museum visit on Wednesday, is accused of orchestrating Navalny’s poisoning but the Kremlin denies involvement 

Navalny has been repeatedly detained for organising public meetings, sued over corruption investigations and was barred from running against Putin in the 2018 presidential election.

As well as the embezzlement and libel cases, Navalny is also facing potential new criminal charges under a probe launched last year by Russian investigators who say he misappropriated over $4million worth of donations. 

Last summer he fell violently ill on a plane in Siberia and two days later was airlifted to Germany in a coma.  

A German military lab determined that Navalny had been poisoned with the Soviet-era military nerve agent Novichok, sparking condemnation from the West. 

But the Kremlin played down the finding of Novichok and has refused to open a full investigation. 

It also denies the claims which emerged last month that its own FSB security agents had tailed Navalny to Siberia and administered the poison. 

Navalny later claimed to have duped an FSB agent into confessing details of the plot, including the claim that his underpants had been sprinkled with Novichok.  

When he arrived in Germany, his heart had slowed and his body temperature had slumped, but medics said he started to breathe spontaneously within two weeks.   

On the 24th day after falling ill, he was taken off mechanical ventilation, and two days later he was moved from intensive care into a normal hospital ward. 

He was later released from hospital and remained in Germany until the flight back to Moscow 11 days ago which ended in his arrest at a border post.  

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