Russian blogger Alexei Navalny will spend about two years and eight months in jail if the court ruling to convert his suspended sentence in the Yves Rocher fraud case into a real prison term comes into force, his defense attorney Olga Mikhaylova told reporters on Tuesday.
"Approximately, he is to spend two years and eight months in prison, minus the two weeks that he had spent in custody after the Khimkinsky Court’s ruling," she said.
In turn, court officials explained that the time that Navalny had spent under house arrest (between February 28, 2014, and December 30, 2014) will be counted as jail time. Each day he spent under house arrest will be equal to one day in jail, TASS reports.
The attorney said that her client did not complain about his current incarceration conditions.
"He complains only about a lack of confidentiality while communicating with his lawyers. He is allowed to talk to them only through a glass pane," she said, adding that the court ruling will be appealed.
Besides, the defense team plans to report to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, which oversees implementation of rulings issued by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, that its ruling of the Yves Rocher case is not being fulfilled.
Meanwhile, Deputy Chairman of the Public Monitoring Commission of the city of Moscow Nikolai Zuev told TASS that the blogger is likely to serve his sentence in a penal colony somewhere in Central Russia.
"In line with the law, the Federal Penitentiary Service is always trying to send a convict to serve a sentence in a region where he or she is registered. This is done to help a convict to maintain his social contacts, so that it was easier for relatives to stay in touch with him," he said.
"The penal colony, which is the closest to Moscow, is located in the Moscow Region. Possibly, Navalny will be sent there," Zuev continued. "Anyway, the decision will depend on how packed colonies and detention facilities are. But it is almost certain that Navalny will be sent to serve his sentence in a Central Federal District colony."
During a visiting session, held on Tuesday at the Moscow City Court, the Russian capital’s Simonovsky District Court ruled to replace Alexey Navalny’s 3.5-year suspended sentence with a real jail term. Navalny will serve the sentence in a general security prison. He will remain in a pretrial detention facility until the ruling enters force.
Opposition blogger’s saga
Navalny was detained on his return to Russia from Berlin on January 17 for numerous violations of his suspended sentence.
A spokesman for the Moscow branch of the Federal Penitentiary Service told TASS earlier that the blogger was supposed to appear at penitentiary inspection office at least twice a month on the days appointed by the penitentiary inspection. However, he skipped these check-ins at least six times in 2020, specifically on January 13, January 27, February 3, March 16, July 6, and August 17. Official warnings about possibly replacing his suspended sentence with a real prison term were issued in each of these cases.
The opposition figure was not summoned for registration during the period of his treatment at Berlin’s Charite clinic. However, according to official reports from it, he was released on September 23, 2020. Navalny did not reply to a summons for October 23. Only a month later, that is on November 23, did he notify correction officials that he was staying at Berlin’s Hotel Arabel for a period of rehabilitation. However, no official documents confirming the treatment that he was undergoing were provided, whereas the mere fact of undergoing rehabilitation would not serve as sufficient grounds to skip any check-ins with the FSIN.
Navalny was put on a wanted list on December 29, 2020, and was detained at Sheremetyevo Airport upon his arrival from Berlin.
According to Deputy Director of the Federal Penitentiary Service Anatoly Yakunin, such court motions are generally employed. Thus, in 2019 only, the judicial system revoked more than 15,000 suspended sentences, replacing them with actual prison terms.
On December 30, 2014, Moscow’s Zamoskvoretsky district court handed Navalny a three-and-a-half year suspended sentence and a probation period of five years and a fine of 500,000 rubles ($6,800) on charges of fraud and money laundering in the Yves Rocher case. On April 25, 2018, the Russian Supreme Court upheld the verdict as legal and justified.