Russian Court Jails Kremlin Critic Navalny Over Protest

August 27, 2018 Updated: August 27, 2018

MOSCOW—A Russian court sentenced opposition leader Alexei Navalny to 30 days in jail on Aug. 27 after he was convicted of breaking public protest laws, which he claims is aimed at stopping him from leading a rally against pension reform next month.

Navalny, who was detained by police outside his home on Aug. 25, was found guilty of breaking the law by organizing an unauthorized Moscow rally on Jan. 28 which called for a boycott of what he predicted would be a rigged presidential election.

Under Russian law, the time, place, and size of such protests must have government approval, but authorities have shown a track record of rejecting applications for rallies in central Moscow and of suggesting less prominent sites instead.

Navalny, who was barred from taking part in the March presidential election over what he said was a trumped-up suspended prison sentence, has been repeatedly jailed for staging such unsanctioned protests.

The 42-year-old politician, who told the court he’ll never give up trying to organize street protests, said Aug. 27 he believed the authorities were jailing him now, more than six months after the alleged offense, to keep him from taking part in a protest planned for Sept. 9 against a move to raise the retirement age in Russia.

That’s the same day as Moscow elects a new mayor, a contest expected to be easily won by incumbent Sergei Sobyanin, who is an ally of President Vladimir Putin; authorities have rejected an application by Navalny’s supporters to rally in central Moscow.

“This strange trial is happening with the single aim of not allowing me to take part in the protest,” Navalny told the presiding judge. “You and I both know it.”

As he was led out of the courtroom, he shouted out the date and time of the planned rally.

“Everyone come to the meeting,” he said.

By Denis Pinchuk and Andrew Osborn