Putin opposition leader Alexey Navalny could be sent to a Russian prison camp within days after losing appeal

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny talks to one of his lawyers
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny talks to one of his lawyers

  • Russian opposition leader and Putin critic, Alexey Navalny, likely to be sent to prison camp. 
  • Navalny lost his appeal, although a judge reduced his 3-year sentence by six weeks.
  • The former lawyer faces another trial on Saturday, this time for slander.
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Russian opposition leader and vocal Putin critic, Alexey Navalny, lost his court appeal and faces a transfer to a prison camp within days, Reuters reported

The former lawyer was arrested after landing back in Russia, following his Berlin-based hospitalization. He was being treated for a near-fatal nerve agent attack, that he has blamed on Russian president, Vladimir Putin, The BBC reported.

His arrest, for charges he claims are fabricated, has sparked mass protests across Russia and escalated tensions with Western governments, seeing condemnation from the EU and US, The Guardian reported

The Kremlin, Russia’s government, denies any involvement in his poisoning.

Navalny charges were for breaking the terms of a suspended sentence in 2014 for embezzlement. These required him to report regularly to Russian police; however, he was unable to do so when recovering in Germany.

Navalny called the charges “absurd” as he was unable to report to police during recovery.

“The whole world knew where I was,” he said. “Once I’d recovered, I bought a plane ticket and came home,” The BBC reported. “The main thing I want to say is don’t be afraid,” he said, in a speech that cited the Bible, the Harry Potter series and sci-fi cartoon series Rick and Morty.

On February 16, the European court of human rights (ECHR) ruled that Russia risked breaching the European Convention on Human Rights if it did not release Navalny immediately, according to Bloomberg. This court decision was rejected by officials in Moscow.

Despite dismissing the appeal, the judge did reduce Navalny’s three-year sentence in a penal colony by six weeks, per The BBC.

Navalny is also unlikely to get an early release as he has been labeled an escape threat, the state-run Tass news service reported Friday, citing a member of Russia’s Public Oversight Committee.

His defense team said it would appeal Saturday’s ruling, Bloomberg reported.

The opposition activist faces a fine of 950,000 rubles ($13,000) in a separate case later on Saturday. He stands accused of slandering a second world war veteran who praised President Putin, per The Guardian.

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Putin critic Navalny tricked a Russian agent into revealing he was poisoned with a nerve agent planted in his underwear

Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny takes part in a rally in Moscow
Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny takes part in a rally in Moscow

  • Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny reportedly convinced a Russian security service agent that he was an aide to a high-ranking official who had requested a report on the August attempt on Navalny’s life.
  • The agent, Konstantin Kudryavtsev, revealed that the poison, a Novichok nerve agent, had been planted in Navalny’s underwear.
  • Navalny fell ill on a flight from Tomsk to Moscow. Kudryavtsev told Navalny that if the plane had not made an emergency landing or medical personnel had responded a little slower, “maybe it all would have gone differently.”
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Opposition leader and Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny tricked a Russian agent who tailed him prior to an attempt on his life in August into revealing that he was poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent planted in his underwear, Bellingcat reported Monday.

Posing as a fictitious aide to a senior Russian official, Navalny convinced reported Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) agent Konstantin Kudryavtsev, who Bellingcat previously exposed as a player in the plot to kill the Russian opposition leader, that he was taking part in a debriefing.

“What went wrong?” Navalny asked. “Why the Navalny operation in Tomsk was a complete failure?”

Navalny fell violently ill on August 20 while flying from Tomsk to Moscow. The aircraft made an emergency landing, and he was taken to a hospital in Omsk, where he was put in a coma. He was then taken to Germany for further treatment, and it was there that it was determined that he was poisoned with a nerve agent from the Novichok family, a collection of chemical weapons developed by the Soviet Union.

In October, a Bellingcat investigation revealed that Russia had been secretly running a chemical weapons program and that scientists involved in the program were in contact with state-operated assassins.

In his call with Kudryavtsev, Navalny asked how the poison was administered, asking specifically about clothing as the delivery medium.

“On which piece of cloth was your focus on? Which garment had the highest risk factor?” Navalny asked.

“The underpants,” Kudryavtsev replied, explaining that the poison was placed along the inside seams in the groin area. The operatives involved expected the poison to be absorbed into the body and not leave a trace.

The FSB agent revealed that a recon team switched off the cameras at Navalny’s hotel, clearing the way for the operations team to plant the poison.

When he asked why Navalny survived the attack, Kudryavtsev said things would have ended differently if the plane had not made an emergency landing or if medical personnel had been slower to respond.

“If it [the plane] had flown a little longer and they hadn’t landed it abruptly somehow and so on, maybe it all would have gone differently,” Kudryavtsev, who was part of the clean-up crew and not the hit squad, said. “That is, if it hadn’t been for the prompt work of the medics, the paramedics on the landing strip, and so on.”

CNN, which worked with Bellingcat on the latest investigation, reported that toxicology experts said Navalny would have probably died if the plane he was on had continued on to Moscow.

Russian President Vladimir Putin acknowledged last week that the FSB had been tailing Navalny but denied that the security service had been involved in an attempt on his life.

“The intelligence agencies of course need to keep an eye on him,” Putin said, “but that does not mean that he needs to be poisoned – who needs him? If they had really wanted to, they would have probably finished the job.”

Navalny tried to engage other Russian security service agents, but they hung up on him after realising who he was.

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