Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny may face Russia on 3.5 years in prison: lawyer

Alexei Navalny on Wednesday opted out of a growing list of legal threats.

Moscow, Russia:

Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny is on the national wanted list for violating the rules of a suspended prison sentence and risking three and a half years in prison when he returns to Russia this weekend, one of his lawyers said on Thursday said.

Navalny announced on Wednesday that he plans to return to Russia on Sunday for the first time after consuming poison in August with a Novichok nerve agent despite the risk of returning from Germany.

The Kremlin denied involvement in his poisoning, saying there was no evidence that he was poisoned, adding that he is free to return to Russia at any time.

Navalny on Wednesday closed a growing list of legal threats, with criminal cases against him – at least two of which are pending – fabricated to thwart his political ambitions.

One of Navalny’s attorneys, Vadim Kobezov, told Reuters on Thursday that Navalny was now put on a national wanted list as Russia’s prison service reported him at the end of last year regarding a suspended conviction for embezzlement. Accused of not doing what he was serving.

Navalny said that the original case against her had been trumped and that she was in Germany when she was being treated as an outpatient for poisoning, so could not report. The Prison Service says he was discharged from a hospital in Berlin in September and therefore should have been. Returned to Moscow and reported to him.

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“In theory, they can stop it (in Russia) as soon as it arrives, but only for 48 hours initially,” Kobzev said, adding that he expected the court to hear the details of the case on 29 January. The suspended sentence will be converted into actual jail time.

“The court can convert his entire suspended sentence into a real one and imprison him for three and a half years,” said Kobezh.

Leonid Volkov, an associate of Navalny, has said that Navalny would become the world’s most high-profile political prisoner, if compared to Nelson Mandela, and said that he would become a symbol of resistance to the Kremlin.

The Kremlin, which only refers to Navalny as a “Berlin patient”, says that it is up to the relevant law enforcement agencies how to treat him.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)

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