The 44-year-old Navalny, an anti-corruption investigator who is the most prominent critic of President Vladimir Putin was arrested Jan. 17 upon returning from Germany where he spent five months recovering from a nerve-agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin. The accusation has been rejected by the Russian authorities.
Russia’s penitentiary service alleged that Navalny had violated the probation of his suspended sentence from a 2014 money-laundering conviction that he has rejected as politically motivated. It asked the Simonovsky District Court in Moscow to turn his 3 1/2-year suspended sentence into one that he must serve in prison.
Navalny and his lawyers have argued that while he recovering in Germany from the poisoning, he could not register with Russian authorities in person as required by the terms of his probation. Navalny also insisted that his due process rights were crudely violated during his arrest and described his jailing as a travesty of justice.
Navalny’s jailing has triggered massive protests across Russia over the past two weekends, in which tens of thousands took to the streets to demand his release. Many protesters also chanted slogans against Putin. Police detained thousands of participants each time. Some were beaten.
Navalny’s team has called for another demonstration outside the Moscow court building on Tuesday. Police have deployed in force near the court building and cordoned off nearby streets.
Kremlin Critic Navalny Says Prison Like Being a ‘Stormtrooper’
«At this moment, I imagine that I’m filming a Russian remake of Star Wars, where instead of imperial stormtroopers there are prisoners in pea jackets and hats with earflaps,» Navalny said.
«Defending the interests of the Emperor, space prisoners travel from planet to planet, suppressing the rebels. But wherever they are, at exactly 6:05 am they listen to the anthem, at 6:10 am they do exercises,» he added.
The anti-corruption crusader’s comments were the second time he has made a statement since he confirmed that he would be serving his sentence in one of the most notorious facilities in Russia’s extensive network of over 600 labour colonies.
In his first Instagram post from prison one week earlier, Navalny wrote that he was locked up in a «real concentration camp».
Earlier Monday a Russian military court rejected Navalny’s complaint over a lack of a criminal investigation into his poisoning.
The Kremlin critic has accused Russian investigators of not launching a probe to find those responsible for an attack on him with the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok in August last year.
Navalny says the poisoning was carried out on the orders of President Vladimir Putin, a claim the Kremlin has repeatedly denied.
After spending months in Germany recovering from the attack, Navalny returned to Moscow in mid-January and was immediately detained by authorities on charges of violating parole while abroad. He was sentenced to jail time in February.
In both of his Instagram posts from prison, Navalny has projected an air of optimism, ending Monday’s with «May the force be with you!» and a winking-face emoji.