Navalny rushed to court, Moscow snubs West
Moscow – Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny was rushed to a court hearing inside a police station on Monday, a day after he was detained at a Moscow airport when flying home for the first time since he was poisoned last summer.
The United Nations and Western nations told Russia to immediately free the opposition leader and some countries called for new sanctions. Moscow told them to mind their own business.
Navalny, in a video from inside the police station, called the hearing “the highest degree of lawlessness” and lashed out at President Vladimir Putin, accusing him of throwing the criminal code out of the window in fear.
The Kremlin was expected to comment on his case later on Monday, but usually refers questions about the 44-year-old politician to law enforcement agencies.
Navalny’s detention was ordered by Moscow’s prison service in relation to alleged violations of a suspended prison sentence in an embezzlement case he says was trumped up.
Monday’s court hearing, parts of which were live streamed by Navalny’s allies, may rule for him to be held in custody until a different court decides whether to convert that suspended 3.5 year sentence into real jail time.
Some of his allies said they feared the hearing might skip that interim stage and convert his suspended sentence itself.
Four masked police officers detained Navalny at passport control on Sunday evening, the first time he had returned home after being poisoned by what German military tests showed was a Novichok nerve agent, a version of events the Kremlin rejects.
The rouble weakened as investors weighed the risk of new sanctions against Moscow. (Reuters)