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A Moscow court on Tuesday ordered Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny to more than 2 1/2 years in prison on charges that he violated the terms of his probation while he was recuperating in Germany from nerve-agent poisoning.

Navalny, who is the most prominent critic of President Vladimir Putin, had earlier denounced the proceedings as a vain attempt by the Kremlin to scare millions of Russians into submission.

The prison sentence stems from a 2014 embezzlement conviction that he has rejected as fabricated.

The 44-year-old Navalny was arrested Jan. 17 upon returning from his five-month convalescence in Germany from the attack, which he has blamed on the Kremlin. Russian authorities deny any involvement. Despite tests by several European labs, Russian authorities said they have no proof he was poisoned.

As the order was read, Navalny pointed to his wife Yulia in the courtroom and traced the outline of a heart on the glass cage where he was being held.

Earlier, Navalny attributed his arrest to Putin’s “fear and hatred," saying the Russian leader will go down in history as a “poisoner.” “I have deeply offended him simply by surviving the assassination attempt that he ordered,” he said. “The aim of that hearing is to scare a great number of people,” Navalny said. “You can't jail the entire country."

Russia’s penitentiary service alleges that Navalny violated the probation conditions of his suspended sentence from a 2014 money laundering conviction that he has rejected as politically motivated. It asked the Simonovsky District Court to turn his 3 1/2-year suspended sentence into one that he must serve in prison, although he has spent some of that sentence under house arrest.

Navalny emphasized that the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that his 2014 conviction was unlawful and Russia paid him compensation in line with the ruling.

Navalny and his lawyers have argued that while he was recovering in Germany from the poisoning, he couldn't register with Russian authorities in person as required by his probation. Navalny also insisted that his due process rights were crudely violated during his arrest and described his jailing as a travesty of justice.


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