News / Europe

Putin Foe Navalny Faces Prison if Appeal Rejected

FILE - Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny
FILE - Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny
Reuters
Convicted at a trial he describes as Vladimir Putin's revenge for his political challenge, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny faces five years in prison if his appeal against a theft conviction is rejected on Wednesday.
 
The court hearing in the remote city of Kirov also poses a conundrum for President Putin.
 
Jailing Navalny would keep Putin's most prominent critic out of elections for years, curtailing any threat from a young rival with presidential ambitions who scored a strong second-place showing in a Moscow mayoral vote last month.
 
But it could also revive street protests by Putin's opponents and human rights activists over what they see as a clampdown on dissent since the 61-year-old president started a six-year third term in 2012.
 
While Putin denies exerting influence over the courts, many Russians suspect that rulings in high-profile cases are dictated by the Kremlin and result from careful political calculation.
 
“The Kremlin has an unpleasant decision to make,” said Dmitry Oreshkin, a political analyst.
 
A ruling upholding the five-year sentence would be seen by many as evidence that tough tactics will continue despite signals meant to suggest a let-up, such as Putin's promise of a prisoner amnesty later this year.
 
A blogger against corruption among Russia's elite, Navalny helped lead the biggest protests of Putin's 13-year rule, which were stoked by allegations of fraud in a December 2011 parliamentary election.
 
The protests have faded, but Navalny has emerged as the main opposition leader, making his trial the most closely watched in Russia since jailed former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky's second conviction in 2010.
 
Accused of stealing timber while working as an adviser to the governor of the Kirov region in 2009, Navalny - who denies wrongdoing - was convicted of large-scale theft in July and sentenced to five years in prison.
 
Free for now
 
But he was unexpectedly freed from custody the following day to allow him to continue his campaign for Moscow mayor.
 
Some analysts say the Kremlin was betting he would suffer a humiliating defeat, but he won 27 percent and nearly forced the incumbent, Putin ally Sergei Sobyanin, into a runoff.
 
“It's difficult for the Russian authorities to jail Navalny, because he has won legitimacy in the form of support from 600,000 people who voted for him,” said Liliya Shevtsova, a senior associate at the Carnegie Moscow Center thinktank.
 
Because Navalny's popularity is limited in Russia's far-flung regions and Putin faces no imminent threat to his rule, Shevtsova said that for the Kremlin it would make little sense to “turn Navalny into a Russian Mandela”.
 
While many analysts expect Navalny's conviction will stand, some predict his sentence might be reduced or suspended, keeping him out of prison but also out of elections.
 
Some cautioned, however, that his chances of staying out of jail should not be overestimated.
 
“Putin's power structure instinctively follows the standards of the Stalin or Brezhnev era, when inconvenient and critical people were isolated,” Oreshkin said. “The temptation to do that with Navalny will be great.”
 
Navalny, who used a smartphone to send tweets during his trial, kept up his anti-corruption campaign on the eve of the hearing with a blog post about an enormous apartment allegedly owned by the wife of an ice hockey star turned lawmaker.
 
He maintained a wry air on Twitter, writing: “I'm really tired of going to Kirov and it's cold there :(“
 
In response to an invitation to a performance at a Kirov theater on Wednesday evening, he tweeted: “I'll be there of course”.

You May Like

Video Video Claims to Show Shi'ite Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

While not yet independently confirmed, brutal killing already has gotten attention of Islamic State followers on social media More

After Six Years, Little Change for Niger Delta's Former Militants

Nigerians who laid down arms in exchange for government amnesty subsidies fear program may end with upcoming presidential elections More

Vietnam Pushes for More Educated Drivers to Curb Road Deaths

Transportation officials hope that making a greater effort to get drivers to learn the rules of the road will reduce fatal crashes More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boyi
X
Jeff Seldin
March 05, 2015 2:36 AM
A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More