MOSCOW – A Russian court has ruled that Alexei Navalny will be jailed for 30 days after returning home after recovering from near-fatal poisoning.
The decision to keep the Kremlin critic in pre-trial detention ended an unconventional and impromptu hearing at a police station in Khimki, north of Moscow, where Navalny was held overnight without access to a lawyer.
Apart from a handful of pro-Kremlin media outlets, the audience was closed to journalists and the public.
In one video Posted on social networks from the courtroom Monday morning, Navalny accused the authorities of “anarchy to the highest degree”. In one video response to the ruling, Navalny urged his supporters to take to the streets. “Don’t go out for me, go out for yourself and your future,” he said.
The sentence means Navalny will remain in detention at least until a court hearing later this month, when he could be sentenced to 3.5 years in prison.
The Russian Prison Service warned last week that Navalny would be detained after setting foot on Russian soil for allegedly violating the terms of a suspended sentence in a 2014 embezzlement case.
The Kremlin spokesman was escorted by officers wearing black masks during passport control on Sunday evening, shortly after his plane from Germany was rerouted to Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport.
The last-minute hijacking meant that around 2,000 of his supporters who had come to Vnukovo airport, where his plane was due to land, were left out in the -20 degree Celsius cold.
Navalny was airlifted to Germany this summer after suffering a near-fatal attack with a military-grade nerve agent from the Novichok Group. The opposition politician has singled out Russian President Vladimir Putin for ordering the attack – the Kremlin denies responsibility.
Several EU countries have denounced Navalny’s detention and are demanding his immediate release.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Monday dismissed the criticism as “artificial resonance” intended to distract attention from the West’s own “deep crisis of the liberal development model”.