Russia jails Navalny for 30 days; Kremlin foe calls for protests

Leading opposition figure now set to remain in prison until February 15 following dramatic airport arrest.

Monday's verdict was delivered in a courtroom set up at the police station in Khimki, on the outskirts of Moscow, where Navalny was taken following his detention on Sunday night [Courtesy of Instagram @NAVALNY/Social Media via Reuters]

A Russian court has ordered Alexey Navalny be remanded in pre-trial detention for 30 days, a move that will heighten tensions between Moscow and Western leaders who are calling for the Kremlin critic’s release.

Monday’s verdict was delivered in a courtroom set up at the police station in Khimki, on the outskirts of Moscow.

Navalny was arrested on Sunday night, upon arriving back in Russia for the first time since being allegedly poisoned last year.

Following Monday’s hearing, Navalny called on people to protest against the ruling and Russia’s authorities.

In a video clip posted on YouTube, Navalny said: “Don’t be afraid, take to the streets. Don’t go out for me, go out for yourself and your future.”

His arrest at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport was ordered by Russia’s prison service, which has said he violated the terms of a suspended prison sentence he was handed in 2014.

Navalny claims the embezzlement charges relating to the 2014 case are politically motivated.

He will now remain in prison until at least February 15, with a different court set to decide whether to convert his suspended three and a half year sentence into real jail time.

Al Jazeera’s Aleksandra Godfroid, reporting from Moscow, said Navalny will be moved to a “pre-trial detention centre” following Monday’s ruling and said his custody could yet be prolonged beyond 30 days.

“He will stay in jail waiting for his hearing,” she said. “We can possibly expect this hearing to happen by the end of this month, though that is not for sure.”

‘A mockery of justice’

Navalny’s aides said the 44-year-old had been denied access to his lawyers and was notified at the last minute of Monday’s hearing.

In a video recorded from inside the police station, Navalny himself said he was “facing a mockery of justice” and lashed out at Russian President Vladimir Putin, accusing him of throwing the criminal code out of the window in fear.

The Kremlin was expected to comment on his case later on Monday, but usually refers questions about Navalny to law enforcement agencies.

Navalny’s arrest upon return from Berlin, where he was treated following the alleged poisoning in August that he blames on the Kremlin, has provoked condemnation from European and world powers.

The foreign ministers of Germany, Britain, France and Italy called for Navalny’s release, while Lithuania said it would ask the European Union to swiftly impose new sanctions on Russia.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov dismissed the expressions of outrage, saying they were designed to distract their own citizens from domestic problems.

He said the Navalny case had gained artificial resonance in the West and that Moscow was unfazed by potential damage to its image.

“We should probably think about our image, but we’re not young ladies going to a ball,” Lavrov told reporters.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies