Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny appeared in court this morning where he faces up to three-and-a-half years in jail for ‘violating probation.’
Dozens of his supporters were rounded up by riot police outside the gates of the Moscow court and another 20 were detained at a nearby metro station.
Only his wife Yulia was allowed to pass through the police cordon.
Russia denies the claim, despite tests by several European labs.
Alexei Navalny, 44, appears in court this morning accused of violating probation after he was handed a suspended sentence in 2014 for money laundering – a conviction we rejects as politically motivated
Yulia Navalnaya, 44, the wife of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, walks into the Simonovsky District Court in Moscow on Tuesday morning
A Navalny supporter is hauled into a police van by heavily armoured riot police
Riot police lead a Navalny supporter towards a waiting van this morning
Navalny speaks with his lawyer Olga Mikhailova at the court in Moscow this morning
Navalny speaks with his laywer ahead of the sentencing hearing
Navalny is seen through the glass panels of the dock at the Simonovsky District Court on Tuesday morning
Navalny was arrested on January 17 after returning from Germany, he faces more than three years in prison today
Navalny faces jail for allegedly violating probation terms of a suspended sentence from a 2014 money-laundering conviction that he has rejected as politically motivated.
Prosecutors have asked the Simonovsky District Court to trigger a three-and-a-half year sentence of imprisonment which has been hanging over his head.
He was seen standing inside the glass-panelled dock this morning wearing a black hoodie as he spoke with his lawyer Olga Mikhailova.
When asked by the judge to state where he lived, Navalny joked that he lived at the Matrosskaya Tishina prison.
Navalny’s defence says that while he was recovering from the Novichok poisoning he was unable to register with Russian authorities in person as required by the terms of his probation.
The Putin critic has also insisted that his human rights were violated during his arrest and described his jailing as a travesty of justice.
His detention has sparked massive protests across Russia over the past two weekends.
Tens of thousands have taken to the streets to demand his release, chanting slogans against Putin.
Police detained more than 5,750 people during Sunday’s rallies, including more than 1,900 in Moscow, the biggest number the nation has seen since Soviet times. Some were beaten.
Most were released after being handed court summons and face fines or jail terms of between seven and 15 days.
Several people faced criminal charges over alleged violence against police.
Law enforcement officers detain Navalny supporters close to the court building this morning
A woman is escorted away by riot police this morning
Law enforcement officers detain a man outside the Moscow City Court in Moscow on Tuesday
A Navalny supporter is dragged into a police van on Tuesday morning
Riot police and mounted officers patrolling outside the court this morning
Yulia Navalny speaks to police outside the entrance to the court this morning
Yulia Navalny is surrounded by police and reporters outside the court in Moscow on Tuesday
Riot police early this morning prepare for the arrival of Navalny and his supporters
A prison truck arrives at court this morning with Navalny inside
Navalny is seen through the bars of a prison van as he arrives at the Simonovsky District Court in Moscow
Navalny’s team has called for another demonstration Tuesday outside the Moscow court building. Police were deployed in force near the court building and cordoned off nearby streets, making random detentions.
After his arrest, Navalny’s team released a two-hour YouTube video featuring an opulent Black Sea residence allegedly built for Putin.
The video has been viewed over 100 million times, fueling discontent as ordinary Russians struggle with an economic downturn and the coronavirus pandemic.
Putin insisted last week that neither he nor his relatives own any of the properties mentioned in the video, and his long time confidant, construction magnate Arkady Rotenberg, claimed that he owns it.
As part of efforts to squelch the protests, the authorities have targeted Navalny’s associates and activists across the country.
Protesters rally in support of Navalny in Moscow on Sunday
A demonstrator in Moscow on Sunday as thousands gathered to protest against Navalny’s detention
His brother Oleg, top ally Lyubov Sobol and several others were put under house arrest for two months and face criminal charges of violating coronavirus restrictions.
The jailing of Navalny and the crackdown on protests have stoked international outrage, with Western officials calling for his release and condemning the arrests of demonstrators.
Russia has dismissed the comments of U.S. officials as interfering in its domestic affairs.