[JURIST] Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny, was convicted and sentenced [RT report] by a Moscow court to 20 days in jail on Monday after for calling on his supporters to join him in an unauthorized rally in Nizhny Novgorod. Russian officials claim that the planned rally is one among many of Navalny's repeated violations [NYT report] of the law concerning public demonstrations, including a 30-day prison term handed down in July and a 15 day sentence [JURIST reports] in 2015.
Navalny was one of the primary protest leaders during the demonstrations that followed Putin's 2012 election as president. He was also a noted whistleblower in a series of corruption scandals involving government-run companies. Russian government officials have previously declared Navalny ineligible to run for election in 2018 because he is still serving a suspended sentence for fraud, a felony conviction that prohibits anyone convicted of the offense from holding high office.
Notably, the 20-day jail sentence is long enough to force Navalny to miss a major rally he scheduled for Saturday. Calling the sentencing a planned birthday present for Putin [WP report], whose birthday falls on Saturday, Navalny claimed that the ruling was politically motivated, and pledged to run for the election regardless. Navalny is planning to hold rallies across Russia's 11 time zones, from Arkhangelsk in the north to Vladivostok in the Far East, while Navalny's supporters are planning to move forward with the rally on Saturday, and use the rally as a platform to protest the court ruling.