Naval'nyj: 2 years and eight months in forced labour camp
by Vladimir Rozanskij

The Moscow court sentenced him because the blogger shows no signs of "correction". Many journalists stopped at the entrance to the court. More demonstrations by supporters and arrests. The government listens to Kirill's advice on young people.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - The Simonovsky court in Moscow has handed down a sentence of three and a half years in a forced labour camp to Alexei Naval’ny. As foreseen, the court endorsed the requests of the Federal Penalty Enforcement Service, the judicial office of the Russian interior ministry.

Taking into account the time already spent in pre-trial detention, Naval’nyj will still have to serve two years and eight months in the camp. His lawyers have announced that they will appeal the sentence, and will also appeal to The Hague Supreme Court.

According to the Federal Service, the blogger broke bail over the Yves Rocher affair, without presenting himself to the inspectors' immediately after coming out of a coma, when he was discharged from the German clinic where he was transported after poisoning with the Novichok last August.

The prosecution representative argued that "Navalny was expected to pursue a path of correction, but he did not", staying in a German hotel and traveling around the country, without disclosing his domicile to the Russian authorities. The documents relating to rehabilitation were not transmitted, nor other documents necessary for the prosecutor to interrupt the prosecution process.

Naval'nyj's lawyer, Vadim Kobzev, indicated two reports sent to the prosecutor's office, in which the conditions of the opponent's stay in Germany were communicated: "the whole world knew where he was, and you didn't?" - exclaimed Kobzev.

Navalnyy himself intervened with a statement: "I would like to say a few words about the elephant in the middle of this room, so that everyone can see that the meaning of this trial concerns an accusation for which I have already been recognized innocent, and it has been proven by the European court that this is a false charge. Someone wanted me not to take even one footstep on the territory of our country as a free man, and we know who he is: he is a man full of envy and hatred, who lives locked up in a bunker, and is mortally offended by the fact that I survived after they tried to kill me on his orders”.

At the end of his speech, which seemed more like a real political manifesto than a defence, Naval’nyj drew messages of affection on the glass, addressed to his wife Julia.

Over two hundred journalists were accredited to the court session, although many of them were stopped at the entrance. The Simonovsky court president resigned from his post before the end of his term. The session was also attended by several diplomats, sent by the embassies of various countries around the world.

Naval’ny supporters gathered around the building where the trial was held, more than 200 of whom were arrested by the Omon who were willing to protect the building (photo 2). Several people were stopped directly at the subway exit near the courthouse, especially the younger people.

Meanwhile, the Russian ministry of education has decided to introduce the figure of "advisers to the director of education" in schools, in an apparent nod to the warnings of the patriarch of Moscow Kirill (Gundjaev), who had complained about the lack of healthy role models for young people.

The project was called Childhood Navigators by Minister Sergej Kravtsov, who explained how "these educators must first of all talk to the youngest, explaining political issues, especially with regard to street demonstrations". Monthly parents' meetings will also be called to evaluate measures to combat the involvement of children in social protests.

Immediately after the announcement, Navalny's supporters gathered at various points in the capital and in other cities of Russia, controlled by large police forces that closed Red Square and various central areas of Moscow and St.Pietroburgo.

The coordinator of the Navalnyj regional groups, Leonid Volkov (photo 3), stated that the movement's activists are preparing for a "long-term strategy" of protest actions and participation in the political life of the country, not limited to requests for the release of Navalny himself and other political prisoners. Other opposition figures have also made it known that this year’s electoral campaign for the parliamentary elections will be the logical continuation of the protests.