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Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny jailed for 3.5 years
2 February 2021, 17:53 | Updated: 2 February 2021, 21:49
Alexei Navalny has been jailed for three-and-a-half years after a Moscow court found he breached the terms of a suspended sentence.
The Russian opposition leader will serve two years and eight months after he was found guilty of failing to regularly report to the Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) over an embezzlement case in 2014.
His excuse for non-appearance was deemed insufficient by the courts and the judge decided to transform his suspended sentence over into a real one.
The activist was originally sentenced in 2014 but has already served 12 months under house arrest.
The UK has called for the "immediate and unconditional" release of Mr Navalny and his supporters who have been protesting the country's treatment of the activist, who recently returned to Russia after being treated at a German hospital for a poison attack.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: "The UK calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Alexei Navalny and all of the peaceful protesters and journalists arrested over the last two weeks.
"Today's perverse ruling, targeting the victim of a poisoning rather than those responsible, shows Russia is failing to meet the most basic commitments of any responsible member of the international community."
The 44-year-old was arrested on January 17 upon returning from his five-month convalescence in Germany from a poisoning attack, which he has blamed on the Kremlin.
Alexey @Navalny's decision to return to Russia after being poisoned was a truly brave and selfless act. In contrast, today's ruling was pure cowardice and fails to meet the most basic standards of justice. Alexey Navalny must be released immediately.— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) February 2, 2021
Russian authorities deny any involvement.
The UK believes there is "no plausible explanation for Mr Navalny's poisoning, other than Russian involvement and responsibility".
In a tweet, Boris Johnson said: "Alexey @Navalny's decision to return to Russia after being poisoned was a truly brave and selfless act.
"In contrast, today's ruling was pure cowardice and fails to meet the most basic standards of justice. Alexey Navalny must be released immediately."
A number of protesters gathered outside the court and were met with heavily-armoured police officers.
There were minor scuffles between the demonstrators and officers, echoing weeks of clashes and the arrest of hundreds of Mr Navalny's supporters.