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

    Vietnam Mulls Tough Measures for ‘Misbehaving’ Chinese Tourists

    Move comes after footage surfaced online of Chinese travelers harassing a banana hawker in Da Nang

    The Complicated Math of AIDS

    A lot, and then some: the huge - and complicated - cost of the AIDS epidemic

    Pakistan Social Media Star's Honor Killing Fuels Debate

    Qandeel Baloch's murder puts spotlight on deadly tradition and other mistreatment of women

    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.
    Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Borderi
    X
    July 22, 2016 12:30 AM
    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.
    Video

    Video Number of Syrian Refugees Arriving in US Jumps

    The United States is committed to resettling 85,000 refugees from around the world by October. Of that number, 10,000 will come from Syria and already some 4,000 Syrian refugees have arrived in the United States, many of them settling in the state of Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from Chicago, their arrival is not the end of a difficult journey to find peace and stability.
    Video

    Video Rio’s Trams Await Olympic Tourists

    Over the past century, many cities around the world replaced electric trams, prone to breakdowns and backups, with faster and more spacious buses. But for some reason restored antique trams are a huge tourist attraction. So it’s no wonder the authorities in Rio de Janeiro are busy restoring their city’s old tram line ahead of the Summer Olympic Games. VOA’ George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora