Navalny was placed on the nation’s federal most wanted list last month for violating the probation conditions related to the 2014 conviction of fraud, which he denied was politically motivated.
The Russian Federal Prison Service (FSIN) has requested that the court replace his suspended sentence with his imprisonment. If accepted, Navalny would likely be imprisoned for 3.5 years.
On Monday morning, Navalny faced a surprise hearing in a makeshift court inside the police station, which his supporters criticized as a “circus”.
The activist’s lawyers said they were notified of the proceedings just minutes before they were due to begin, and had no opportunity to review any documents or speak to Navalny.
Navalny himself was taken out of his cell moments later under the impression that he would finally be able to meet with his defense team, but he found himself in the court session. In his first appearance since border inspectors detained him at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport last night, Navalny criticized the measures as “chaos at their highest levels” and “a mockery of justice.”
“Some people are filming me, some people are sitting here, and this is all called an open hearing for the Khimki court. They are reviewing the issue of my being in detention. Why is the session held inside a police station?” Navalny said in a video posted on his Instagram account during the proceedings. Cases of mocking justice but the grandfather in bunker is so scared that they tore apart the proceedings folder. “
His spokeswoman, Keira Yarmisch, indicated that the only people who appeared to have had prior knowledge of the hearing were government television staff and reporters from a popular pro-Kremlin newspaper, which prompted Navalny to request that “real journalists” be allowed in. Around 200 journalists and supporters gathered outside the police station where the session took place, according to media outlet news agency.
Navalny has been a constant thorn in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s side, raising concerns about his safety in the country.
The investigation also found that this unit, which includes chemical weapons experts, has followed Navalny on more than 30 flights to and from Moscow since 2017. Russia denies involvement in the poisoning of Navalny. Putin himself said in December that if the Russian security services had wanted to kill Navalny, they would “have finished” the mission.
However, several Western officials and Navalny himself have publicly blamed the Kremlin.
Governments around the world have criticized Russia over Navalny’s arrest. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas demanded his immediate release last day.
“The United States strongly condemns Russia’s decision to arrest Alexei,” Pompeo said in a statement on Sunday. “We note with great concern that his arrest is the latest in a series of attempts to silence Navalny and other opposition figures and independent voices critical of the Russian authorities.”
Raab described Navalny’s arrest as “appalling” and said the opposition leader was a “victim of a despicable crime” in a tweet Monday. “Instead of persecuting Mr. Navalny, Russia should explain how chemical weapons began to be used on Russian soil.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov avoided criticism, saying the West was trying to “divert attention” from its own problems.
Yesterday we saw how [the West] Seized news of Navalny’s return to the Russian Federation. “Obviously, you can feel the joy that the carbon copy comments bring,” Lavrov said during his annual press conference on Monday. “With joy, because it seems to allow Western politicians to believe that they will be able to divert attention from the deepest. The crisis in which the liberal model of development finds itself.”
Russian officials usually try to preserve semblance of an impartial justice system, but the optics and speed in handling Navalny’s case on Monday shocked his supporters.
“What happens with Navalny is worse than the circus. What remote hearing? On what grounds.” [is] Some Khimki cop trying to keep someone in custody? This is pure hell. Vladimir Voronin, a lawyer at the Anti-Corruption Foundation, said in a tweet: “Will they shoot him at the end?”
Symbolically, a picture of Genrik Yagoda, head of the Soviet Union’s NKVD intelligence service during the early years of Joseph Stalin’s purges in the 1930s, loomed over Navalny in the hearing room on Monday, according to a clip posted online.