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

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter 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.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid