Scores more detained as Moscow court considers prison term for Navalny

Alexei Navalny is charged with violating a 2014 suspended sentence for embezzlement by skipping out on check-ins with Russia's prison service while in Germany

The decision comes two weeks after Navalny was arrested on January 17 upon returning to Moscow from Berlin, where he spent five months recovering from an alleged nerve-agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin.

"I came back to Moscow after I completed the course of treatment", Navalny said at Tuesday's hearing.

A Moscow court on Tuesday sentenced Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny to two years and eight months in a prison colony, after his arrest last month prompted tens of thousands to rally in his support across the country.

The number of people in Russian Federation living below the poverty line hit 18.8 million, or 12.8% of Russia's total, in the third quarter of past year, official data show.

Police in full riot gear cordoned off the building and AFP journalists saw several people detained. Navalny's lawyers previously told CNN they had little hope for his release, and criticized the Kremlin's control of the country's courts.

One young protester told DW: "I believe that people should be free to their opinion and that Navalny should be free".

Navalny's jailing has triggered massive protests across Russian Federation for the past two weekends, with tens of thousands taking to the streets to demand his release and chant slogans against Putin.

"They are putting one person behind bars to scare millions", Mr Navalny said.

In a separate outburst, Navalny described Putin as a "little thieving man in his bunker" who "doesn't want me to set foot on the ground in Russian Federation".

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OVD Info, which monitors arrests at opposition protests, said more than 5,300 people had been detained.

The probe was published alongside a YouTube video report that has garnered more than 100 million views.

Pro-Kremlin media have since been allowed to tour the palace and a childhood friend and former judo sparring partner of Putin, the oligarch Arkady Rotenberg, over the weekend appeared in a report claiming he owned the building and meant to turn it into an apartment hotel.

In 2017, Navalny's probation period was extended until the end of 2020, because he took part in unsanctioned protests.

It is likely to set off new protests after thousands joined nationwide demonstrations over the last two weekends, and to further inflame tensions with Western governments who have been demanding his release. "Today's perverse ruling, targeting the victim of a poisoning rather than those responsible, shows Russian Federation is failing to meet the most basic commitments expected of any responsible member of the global community".

Russian Federation has dismissed United States and European Union officials' criticism as meddling in its domestic affairs and said that Navalny's current situation is a procedural matter for the court, not an issue for the government.

"A Russian citizen sentenced by Russian court in accordance with Russian laws". By subscribing, you can help us get the story right. Wouldn't you mind your own business, gentlemen?

Putin, who the Kremlin said was not following the Navalny hearing and was busy with affairs of state, said in December that reports the Russian state had poisoned Navalny were part of a USA -backed plot to try to discredit him.

Mr. Navalny used that touch of the absurd to take aim at something the long-ruling Mr. Putin is said to care deeply about: his place in Russia's history books.

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