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Russia court fines opposition leader for anti-police chants

A Russian court in Moscow on Friday fined opposition leader Alexei Navalny [BBC profile] 10,000 rubles (USD $275) for participation in an unsanctioned public gathering. Navanly was charged after chanting anti-police statements [RFE/RL report] outside of the courthouse last week. In February a Moscow court ordered Navalny on house arrest [Guardian report] during an investigation of embezzlement charges. His house arrest does not allow Navalny to access the Internet [JURIST report], which will block his access to writing on his heavily followed blog [blog, translated to English] challenging President Vladimir Putin [JURIST news archive]. Navalny and his supporters argue that this charge, along with his past charges, is politically based.

Russia has cracked down on dissent recently. In November a Moscow court ruled [JURIST report] the Russian government could seize of Navalny's assets. In October a Russian appeals court upheld [JURIST report] Navalny's embezzlement conviction but suspended his five-year jail sentence, allowing him to walk free. In June the UN released a letter from human rights experts voicing their concern [JURIST report] that two Russian non-governmental organizations have been charged by Russian prosecutors following their involvement with the UN Committee against Torture [official website]. In May a Russian court rejected an appeal [JURIST report] by members of the feminist punk group Pussy Riot [RASPI backgrounder; JURIST news archive] against their sentence for a protest against Putin.

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