Fri, 23 Apr 2021

MOSCOW -- Russian opposition political leader Aleksei Navalny has been moved from the Moscow detention center where he has been held since mid-January and is believed to be en route to a prison where he will begin serving a 2 1/2 year sentence.

Navalny's lawyer, Vadim Kobzev, made the announcement on February 25 without providing any further details.

The Russian authorities typically do not provide information about the transfer of prisoners until after they reach their destination, which could be anywhere in the country.

On February 2, a Moscow court changed a 3 1/2 year suspended sentence that was handed down to Navalny in 2014 to a custodial sentence after ruling that the 44-year-old anti-corruption crusader had violated the terms of the earlier court decision. After deducting time already served in custody, the court ruled Navalny must spend 2 1/2 years in prison.

Navalny was detained by Russian police in January immediately upon returning from Berlin, where he was recovering from what German investigators determined was a poisoning attempt using a Novichok-type nerve agent.

Russian authorities claimed that he violated the terms of his suspended sentence by not contacting corrections officials while he was receiving treatment in Germany.

Evacuation To Germany

Navalny fell ill in August 2020 while flying from Siberia to Moscow and, after emergency medical intervention in Omsk, he was medically evacuated to Germany, where he spent several months recovering.

He has blamed the incident on Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the open-source investigative organization Bellingcat has tied the poisoning to a team of Russian Federal Security Service operatives.

SEE ALSO: Amnesty Move To Strip Navalny Of 'Prisoner Of Conscience' Status Sparks Outcry

The Russian government has denied involvement in the poisoning and has refused to open a criminal investigation into the incident.

Navalny and his supporters have said the criminal cases filed against him, the poisoning attack, and other incidents of harassment are retribution for his political activity and his outspoken criticism of the Putin government.

Navalny's arrest and sentencing set off a wave of national protests that the authorities responded to forcefully, detaining more than 10,000 people in dozens of cities and filing administrative and criminal cases against many of them.

The European Union is in the process of considering fresh sanctions against Russia over the Navalny case and has criticized Moscow for ignoring a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights ordering that Navalny be released immediately.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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