Russian opposition’s leader Alexei Navalny set to appear in court

Alexei Navalny © Dmitry Serebryakov/TASS. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

MOSCOW, Jan 28, 2021, WP. Ten days after opposition leader Alexei Navalny last appeared in a makeshift courtroom at a Moscow police station, Navalny is set to have an appeals hearing on Thursday over the decision to jail him ahead of his trial next week, The Washington Post reported.

It’s unlikely the Moscow Regional Court will free Navalny, who was sentenced to 30 days at a pretrial detention center pending his Feb. 2 trial for allegedly violating probation terms. But Thursday’s hearing could give Navalny and his allies another opportunity to call for street protests.

Navalny has requested to participate directly in the appeals hearing, his lawyer, Olga Mikhailova, told the Meduza news outlet, but it’s unclear if he will be allowed to appear in person due to coronavirus restrictions. At Navalny’s last court appearance on Jan. 18 — he returned to Russia the night before after recovering in Germany from a near-fatal poisoning — Navalny was able to record a video message for his supporters.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny calls for protests after court orders him to be held for 30 days upon his return

“They are afraid of you,” he said, calling Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime a gang of monstrous crooks. “They are afraid, and that is why they do things urgently and secretly.”

“So I appeal to you,” he said. “Don’t keep quiet. Resist! Take to the streets! No one can protect us but ourselves, and there are so many of us that if we want to achieve something, we will achieve it.”

Tens of thousands of protesters called for Navalny’s freedom in demonstrations throughout Russia on Saturday, and authorities detained more than 3,700 people, according to rights group OVD-Info. Navalny has said Putin ordered the toxic attack on him in August during a trip to Siberia, and Western governments have condemned Russia’s move to jail him immediately upon his return to the country.

Authorities again ramped up pressure on Navalny’s associates Wednesday night, raiding Navalny’s apartments, offices and also the homes of his aides. Navalny’s brother, Oleg, was detained. Ivan Zhdanov, the director of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, said on Twitter that the searches were for alleged violations of coronavirus hygiene restrictions.

Navalny’s team has already called for more protests on Sunday.

“All of Russia will take to the streets again,” the Twitter account for his Navalny Live YouTube channel said in a post that called the raids an attempt at intimidation.

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