Russia restricts movement of key Navalny ally for 18 months | Courts news
Lyubov Sobol issued a travel ban and curfew for his participation in pro-Navalny protests earlier this year.
A Russian court has sentenced a key ally of jailed opposition leader Alexey Navalny to an 18-month restriction on movement after finding him guilty of instigating people to break COVID-19 safety rules.
Lyubov Sobol was indicted on Tuesday for allegedly calling on Russians to attend an unauthorized street demonstration in January in support of Navalny. She had initially been placed under house arrest.
Sobol was ordered to stay at her home between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. for a year and a half, her lawyer Vladimir Voronin said in a Twitter post.
The 33-year-old has also been banned from leaving Moscow and attending mass events. In addition, she has to report to the police three times a month.
Sobol, who is a prominent Navalny collaborator and was previously a lawyer for his now-closed Anti-Corruption Foundation, dismissed the charge against her as politically motivated.
She tweeted on Tuesday that she had been “removed from the courtroom” for filming the judge announcing the sentence.
“A fictitious case”
The other activists condemned the verdict.
“One and a half years of restricted liberty for a fictitious victimless case,” Navalny spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh, herself currently under house arrest, said in a Twitter post.
Several other close allies of Navalny, including his brother, are currently awaiting a verdict in the so-called ‘health affair’, in which opposition figures have been accused of breaking coronavirus regulations during rallies of support at Navalny held earlier this year.
Navalny, 44, is President Vladimir Putin’s foremost domestic critic.
He is currently serving a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence for alleged parole violations related to a 2014 embezzlement conviction that he denounced as fabricated.
He was arrested in January on his return from Germany to Russia, where he spent five months recovering from poisoning with a nerve agent he attributes to the Kremlin. The government denies the accusation.
Navalny’s imprisonment sparked a wave of mass protests earlier this year across Russia’s 11 time zones, in what appeared to be a major challenge for the Kremlin.
But the authorities reacted quickly with mass arrests of demonstrators and criminal proceedings against Navalny’s closest associates.
Navalny and his allies say Russian authorities are using the country’s legal system to crush dissenting voices ahead of the September parliamentary elections.
In June, a Russian court approved a prosecutor’s request to declare organizations linked to Navalny “extremist”, effectively banning them and preventing his allies from voting.
The polls are widely seen as an important part of Putin’s efforts to cement his reign ahead of the 2024 presidential election.
Putin, 68, has been in power for more than two decades and last year pushed through constitutional changes that would potentially allow him to stay in power until 2036.