Navalny’s Spokeswoman Handed Parole-Like Sentence In ‘Sanitary Case’

Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny's spokesperson, Kira Yarmysh, arrives for her court hearing in Moscow on August 16.  

MOSCOW — A Moscow court sentenced Kira Yarmysh, the spokeswoman of jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny, to 18 months of so-called "restricted freedom," a parole-like sentence, for allegedly calling for the violation of anti-pandemic restrictions.

Yarmysh tweeted on August 16 that the Preobrazhensky district court also cancelled her house arrest.

A prosecutor had asked the court to sentence Yarmysh to two years of "restricted freedom" on the charge of publicly calling for the violation of restrictions imposed by the authorities to try to stem the spread of the coronavirus by urging people to take part in unsanctioned rallies to support Navalny in January.

Earlier this month, Navalny’s brother Oleg was found guilty of the same charges and handed a one-year suspended sentence and a one-year probation period.

Two Navalny associates, Nikolai Lyaskin and Lyubov Sobol, were found guilty in the same case and given parole-like sentences — one year and 18-month, respectively. Media reports saying that Sobol fled Russia after that have not been confirmed either by her or her associates.

A participant in the January rally, Dani Akel, was fined 100,000 rubles (almost $1,400) on similar charges.

Other individuals charged in the case include municipal lawyers Dmitry Baranovsky and Lyusya Shtein; the chief of the Physicians’ Alliance NGO, Anastasia Vasilyeva; a leading member of the Pussy Riot protest group, Maria Alyokhina; and a coordinator of Navalny’s team in Moscow, Oleg Stepanov.

Most of them are under house arrest or curfew.

Aleksei Navalny was arrested on January 17 after returning to Russia from Germany, where he was treated for poisoning with a Novichok-type nerve agent that he says was ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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The Kremlin has denied any role in the incident, which was the latest of numerous attacks on Navalny.

More than 10,000 people were rounded up during nationwide rallies protesting Navalny’s arrest organized in more than 100 Russian towns and cities on January 23 and January 31.

On February 2, Navalny was convicted of violating the terms of his suspended sentence related to an embezzlement case that he has called politically motivated. The remainder of Navalny’s suspended sentence, 2 1/2 years, was then replaced by a real prison term.

That ruling sparked new protests that were also forcibly dispersed by police.

More than 1,400 people were detained by police in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and other Russian cities during those demonstrations.

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