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Russian opposition activist Navalny gets 7-day jail term for disobedience to police

February 25, 2014, 22:25 UTC+3 MOSCOW
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MOSCOW, February 25, /ITAR-TASS/. Moscow’s Tverskoy court on Tuesday sentenced Russian opposition activist and blogger Alexey Navalny to a 7-day jail term for disobedience to police during an unauthorized protest rally, which took place on downtown Moscow’s Manezhnaya Square after the Zamoskvoretsky court had handed sentences on Monday to defendants in a riots case.

The term is counted from 19:00 Moscow Time on February 24. According to the court ruling, Navalny “shouted antigovernment slogans, supported the crowd and impeded police officers.” He also “failed to react to demands to stop illegal actions and swung his arms.”

Two other opposition activists, Ilya Yashin and Boris Nemtsov, were handed out 10-day “administrative arrests” - the way short jail terms of up to 15 days are called in Russia and other former Soviet republic - for disobedience to police at the unauthorized rally.

Navalny and his defense insisted that the accusations were groundless. Navalny said that he, as a person under a suspended sentence, had been trying to avoid any illegal actions.

A Russian court had given the activist a 5-year suspended sentence in October 2013 for embezzlement.

The Russian Interior Ministry said Monday some 420 people, including Navalny, had been detained and taken to police stations for public order violations during the protest rally after the Zamoskvoretsky court’s ruling on the Bolotnaya riots case. Some were later released.

The case of mass riots on Bolotnaya Square in the center of Moscow was launched after events that took place on May 6, 2012, when an opposition rally sanctioned by the authorities turned into clashes with police. Over 400 people were detained for violations of law, more than 30 police officers were injured, just as a few dozen other people.

The case was initiated under the Russian Criminal Code’s Article 212 on mass riots and Article 318 on use of violence against representatives of authorities. Some 30 people were involved in the case. Criminal charges against 11 of them were dropped as a result of a presidential amnesty timed to the 20th anniversary of the Russian Constitution in December 2013.

There were eight defendants in the dock on Monday. The court gave one of them a suspended sentence, and handed out real prison terms ranging from 2 years and 6 months to 4 years to seven others. The convicts said they had neither participated in mass riots nor used violence against police officers.

Earlier, other defendants in the Bolotnaya riots case received their sentences. One got 2 years and 6 months, another 5 years and a third was sent to undergo compulsory treatment in a mental hospital. The Moscow City Court recently started considering the criminal case against the alleged organizers of Bolotnaya riots - Sergei Udaltsov and Leonid Razvozzhayev, who deny their guilt.

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