© Reuters. Yulia Navalnaya, spouse of Russian opposition chief Alexei Navalny, arrives at a courtroom constructing in Moscow


By Maria Tsvetkova and Polina Nikolskaya

MOSCOW (Reuters) – A Russian courtroom convened on Tuesday to contemplate jailing Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny for as much as three and a half years in a case that has sparked nationwide protests and discuss of latest Western sanctions.

Navalny, one in all President Vladimir Putin’s most outstanding critics, was arrested on the Russian border on Jan. 17 after coming back from Germany the place he had been recovering from a nerve agent poisoning in Russia.

Navalny accuses Putin of ordering his homicide, one thing the Kremlin denies. It in flip has prompt that Navalny is an asset of America’s Central Intelligence Company, a cost he rejects.

Navalny watched the listening to in Moscow get underway from inside a glass cage within the courtroom. Earlier than proceedings started, he praised Yulia, his spouse, who was current after being fined the day past for participating in a protest to demand his launch.

“They mentioned that you simply had significantly violated public order and have been a foul woman. I am happy with you,” Navalny mentioned, by way of a microphone.

Outdoors, Reuters reporters noticed riot police detain round 60 of his supporters who had gathered to supply their help.

Moscow’s state jail authority accuses Navalny of parole violations and desires the courtroom to transform a suspended sentence he had been serving in an embezzlement case he calls trumped up into an actual jail time period of as much as three and a half years.

Navalny says he was unable to report into the jail service on the finish of final 12 months as a result of he was recovering in Germany from being poisoned.

State prosecutors mentioned on Monday that they might ask the courtroom to grant the jail authority’s request.

Navalny is already serving out a 30 day detention sentence in reference to the identical case.

Alexei Chesnakov, a political guide near the Kremlin, mentioned on the Telegram messenger service:

“The query is just not whether or not they’ll give him (a jail time period) or not. They’ll. They’ll in the present day. The query is how lengthy for. And after they’ll add extra.”

Navalny’s supporters have staged two straight weekends of nationwide protests demanding he be freed, regardless of a large present of police pressure, the specter of arrest, bitter chilly and the pandemic.

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