Mon, 17 May 2021

A court in Moscow has sentenced a man to 3 1/2 years in prison on a criminal charge of attacking a police officer during January 31 rallies in support of opposition politician Aleksei Navalny.

The Meshchansky district court on April 9 found Pavel Grin-Romanov guilty of using pepper spray against a police officer during the dispersal of the demonstrators.

Grin-Romanov pleaded 'partially guilty' admitting he sprayed the pepper spray in the direction of the riot police but did so to protect his wife who was with him.

Prosecutors sought eight years in prison for the defendant.

Grin-Romanov is one of several people who were handed prison terms or suspended sentences in recent weeks for attacking police during the nationwide demonstrations held on January 23 and January 31 against the arrest of the Kremlin critic.

Navalny was detained at a Moscow airport on January 17 upon his arrival from Germany, where he was recovering from a poisoning, which several European laboratories concluded was a military-grade chemical nerve agent, in Siberia in August 2020.

Navalny has insisted that his poisoning was ordered directly by President Vladimir Putin, which the Kremlin has denied.

In February, a Moscow court ruled that while in Germany, Navalny had violated the terms of parole from an old embezzlement case that is widely considered as being politically motivated. Navalny's 3 1/2 year suspended sentence from the case was converted to a jail term, though the court said he will serve 2 1/2 years in prison given time he had been held in detention.

More than 10,000 supporters of Navalny were detained across Russia during and after the January rallies. Many of the detained men and women were either fined or handed several-day jail terms. At least 90 were charged with criminal misdeeds and several have been fired by their employers.

With reporting by Novaya gazeta, Meduza, and Mediazona

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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