[JURIST] Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny [personal website, in Russian; JURIST news archive] on Thursday was handed a 15-day prison sentence for distributing leaflets attempting to publicize an “anti-crisis” demonstration that is planned to take place March 1. As Navalny was escorted out of the courthouse after given his sentence, he encouraged [press release] citizens of Russia to attend the demonstration by telling reporters, “[w]e need to put pressure on the government to prevent political and economic crisis.” His sentence will preclude [BBC news report] him from participating in the demonstration.
Navalny led protests against Russian President Vladimir Putin [official website] between 2011 and 2012, and has campaigned to organize similar protests to take place in various Russian cities in March. In December Navalny and his brother were convicted of embezzlement and sentenced to 3.5 years in prison. Pending the beginning of his sentence, Navalny was to stay under house arrest, although he has been known to violate house arrest orders from past violations. A European Union (EU) [official website] spokesperson claimed [text] that the guilty verdicts regarding embezzlement charges seemed to be politically motivated. In April a Moscow district court held [JURIST report] that Navalny was guilty of slander. Last November a Moscow court ruled [JURIST report] the Russian government could seize Navalny’s assets.