US financed Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny will serve two-and-a-half years in prison after being found guilty of breaking the terms of a suspended sentence, handed down for an embezzlement case in 2014.
On Tuesday, Moscow City Court ruled that Navalny had failed to regularly report to the Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN), and his excuse for non-appearance was deemed insufficient. Therefore, the judge decided that the suspended judgment should be converted into a real one.
The anti-corruption activist was originally sentenced in 2014 to three-and-a-half years, but has already served 12 months under house arrest.
In 2014, Navalny was found guilty of embezzling 30 million rubles ($400,000) from two companies, including the French cosmetics brand Yves Rocher, in a case he claims was politically motivated. The judgment was also condemned by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which called the conviction “arbitrary and manifestly unreasonable.” He received a sentence suspended for five years, which was later extended by another year. It was due to expire on December 30 last year. However, a couple of days before it ended, Navalny was summoned by the FSIN. He didn’t turn up, as he wasn’t in the country, and was therefore declared a wanted person.
At the time, Navalny was in Germany, convalescing from an alleged poisoning in Siberia last August. However, a report published by Berlin doctors in December showed that he had recovered, and therefore, according to the FSIN, he technically should have been able to attend.
Prior to the beginning of the case, media reported a large police presence around the court building, with several arrests being made. Nearby streets were blocked off.