The government continues to rely on repression, but Navalny’s rallying cry has galvanised the opposition

Less than 24 hours after returning to Russia, Alexei Navalny – the most internationally recognisable political opponent of Vladimir Putin – was jailed for 30 days following a brief court hearing held inside a police station in a suburb of Moscow. Navalny, having survived a nearly lethal poisoning by the Soviet-era nerve agent novichok in August, now faces a possible three-and-a-half year prison sentence.

The official explanation of his arrest and detention? Navalny allegedly violated the terms of his suspended criminal sentence by remaining in Germany for further treatment after he was released from hospital. The suspended sentence, which expired on 30 December 2020, is from a 2014 trial that was deemed to be “arbitrary and manifestly unreasonable” by the European Court of Human Rights and for which Russia was ordered to pay Navalny and his brother nearly €76,000 in compensation.

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