The prolific Putin critic has been detained for a month now, and has had his embezzlement allegations converted to a 3.5 year prison sentence (of which his lawyer said the he would actually serve two years and eight months, because of time already spent under house arrest. His lawyers also said they would appeal).
Before this, Navalny was arrested on Jan. 17 for alleged parole violations after returning from Germany where he had been recovering from being poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent. He said Russian state security agents had put the poison in his underpants, something the Kremlin denied. He used Tuesday’s hearing to try to frame Putin’s place in history.
The decision, which followed nationwide protests calling for Navalny’s release, will further strain relations with the West, which is considering imposing sanctions on Russia over its handling of the case, particularly as the US, UK, Germany and the EU bloc all urge Moscow to free Navalny.
That said, Russia is already under numerous Western sanctions, and analysts say the West’s options for more pressure are limited. Russia has suggested that Navalny is a CIA asset, a charge he rejects, and has told the West to stay out of its domestic affairs.