Russian opposition leader Aleksey Navalny risks imprisonment of 3.5 years if he sets foot on Russian soil. This is what the Russian Federal Prison Service (FSIN) stated after Navalny had failed to comply with the ultimatum to report.
9:00 a.m. Navalny should have reported to the Moscow court. This duty to report was part of the suspended sentence imposed on him in the 2014 Yves Rocher case. Together with his brother, Navalny was convicted in 2017 for embezzling around $500,000 from two Russian companies working with the French French cosmetics company Yves Rocher.
The brothers were sentenced to 3.5 years, which was suspended from Navalny under the condition of a reporting obligation. Navalny himself has always insisted that he is innocent.
At the end of imprisonment
recently, the opposition leader adhered to the conditions. But being in Berlin to recover from the novichok poisoning, he was unable to report on October 12.
Following an article on the medical course of poisoning published in the scientific journal The Lancet, the FSIN proposed an ultimatum. Because Navalny would be physically able to do so, until December 29, he had a last chance to report to Moscow, otherwise the suspended sentence would be converted into an actual prison sentence.
According to the leader of the opposition, it is no coincidence that the Prison Service has just now summoned Navalny to report. “The probation of the provisional sentence would expire tomorrow, which would no longer allow the suspended sentence to be converted into imprisonment,” explains Russia correspondent David Jan Godfroid.
If he arrives in Russia now, Navalny will be arrested and he will have the chance to disappear from the political scene for years. Godfroid therefore thinks that the chances of Navalny returning to Russia are small. “After his poisoning, he said he would return to Russia once he had recovered, but this is now being made difficult for him.” Navalny could travel to Russia in principle, but when he arrived there, chances are he will be imprisoned immediately.
In the past, Navalny was arrested several times. “But a long-term unconditional imprisonment has not been imposed before. The poisoning was a very direct way to eliminate him, and the Russian government hopes that his constituents will forget him after years of imprisonment or a long stay abroad.”
Opposition from abroad
“ Navalny will probably apply for political asylum in Germany. And it is also likely that he will get this because he will be persecuted upon return to Russia.” A lot of his opposition program Navalny is already doing online. He makes information videos about fraud and corruption and also calls online to demonstrate. “But the opposition in Russia is almost decapitated with this. It‘s not easy to get something done now that he can’t be physically in Russia.
Navalny responds to Twitter and Instagram furiously to the news. “The FSIN refers to a Lancet article, demanding that I go to prison. But excuse me, the article is about how I was poisoned with novitsjok. That would mean that the state officially recognizes my poisoning. Where is this criminal case?”