Russian lawmakers have threatened to imprison opposition politician Alexey Navalny for failing to comply with the terms of his suspended sentence if he fails to appear in Moscow on Tuesday morning, a lawyer and officials said.
Navalny is currently in Germany after receiving treatment at a Berlin clinic in Charite following his poisoning in August by neuroscientist Novichok.
Russian Federal Agency’s Statement
The Russian Federal Penitentiary Service in a statement on Monday said that by staying in Germany following a recovery from “his illness,” Navalny violated the terms of his suspended sentence. The opposition politician believes the case is politically motivated.
“According to the [Lancet] definition, A.A. Navalny was discharged from the Charite Clinic on September 20, 2020, and by October 12 all symptoms of her illness had passed,” the Federal Penitentiary Service said in a statement.
“Therefore, the convicted person is not fulfilling the obligations imposed by the court and is evading control of the [probation] function.”
The Charge Against Navalny’
The service added that Navalny had been ordered to appear at a penal court in Russia; otherwise he will be bound and his suspended sentence will be changed to a real one.
Navalny’s lawyer Vadim Kobzev tweeted late Monday that he had received a disciplinary order ordering Navalny to come to Moscow at 9am on Tuesday.
The case, commonly referred to as “Yves Roche’s case,” dates back to 2014 when Alexey Navalny and his brother Oleg were convicted of embezzling nearly $ 500,000 from two Russian companies between 2008 and 2012. One of these companies was affiliated with the French cosmetics company, Yves Rocher, and an investigation alleges that the Navalnys cleaned up part of the amount. Both were sentenced to three and a half years in prison, but Alexey’s sentence was suspended.
What Does Navalny Say?
Navalny responded to the news in an Instagram post saying: “Like I said, somewhere there is [Vladimir] Putin in his bunker, stomping and yelling ‘Why didn’t he die?’ and if he didn’t die then he is twice guilty and now we will jail him.”
“But if The Lancet publication is being recognized on the state level, where is the the criminal case into the poisoning?!” he added.
Navalny News Secretary Kira Yarmysh wrote on Twitter: “It’s really fun. Prison officials know full well that Navalny was treated in Germany trying to cross the last train (Alexey’s exam expires on December 30!) And wants her to report for testing tomorrow!”
Last week the State Department issued a stern statement from Trump’s administration, accusing Russian security officials of poisoning Navalny, a few days after CNN reported the first direct evidence of the agency’s involvement in poisoning.
The State Department did not explain why the United States did not charge Russia for the poisoning or issued a statement immediately. Wednesday’s statement came after repeated requests for CNN comment.
An investigation by CNN in cooperation with the investigative journalism website Bellingcat revealed that an FSB toxins team of about six to 10 agents trailed Navalny for more than three years before he was poisoned in August with the lethal nerve agent.
That report was followed by the revelation by a Russian agent sent to tail Navalny that they planted the nerve agent in his underpants, a detail that emerged when Navalny called the man and, posing as a member of Russia’s National Security Council, pressed him for details of the operation.