Russian court hands Navalny ally suspended community service sentence

Lyubov Sobol, a Russian opposition figure and a close ally of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, speaks with journalists after a court hearing in Moscow, Russia, April 15, 2021. — Reuters pic
Lyubov Sobol, a Russian opposition figure and a close ally of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, speaks with journalists after a court hearing in Moscow, Russia, April 15, 2021. — Reuters pic

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MOSCOW, April 15 — A Russian court handed Lyubov Sobol, a close ally of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, a suspended sentence of one year’s community service today after finding her guilty of using violence to trespass on private property.

The case related to an incident last December in which she said she had tried to doorstep a Russian secret agent whom Navalny said he had tricked over the phone into disclosing details of a botched plot to murder him with a nerve agent.

The Federal Security Service has dismissed Navalny’s account of the poisoning.

The Investigative Committee said that Sobol and several others tried to gain entry to an elderly woman’s flat in Moscow, wearing uniforms used by the state consumer health watchdog.

Sobol’s supporters said she had rung the doorbell of a flat owned by the family of a man who Navalny has said was involved in his poisoning.

The case against Sobol came amid a crackdown on Navalny’s allies and supporters, who staged several rallies to protest over his jailing earlier this year.

The sentence will not bar Sobol from running for a seat in Russia’s parliament at an election scheduled for September, Navalny’s spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said on Twitter.

Sobol also faces separate charges of flouting Covid-19 restrictions during a protest in January. She was put under house arrest in that case, but the court eased that restriction for her and several other Navalny allies last week. — Reuters

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