- Navalny has been arrested for 30 days.
- He will be held in Matrosskaya Tishina prison.
- Pro-Navalny protests are scheduled for January 23.
Alexey Navalny returned to Moscow on January 17. Upon arrival, he was detained by Russian law enforcement. On Monday, Mr. Navalny was taken to Khimki, a Moscow suburb, for a court hearing. The court provided accreditation to state media to be inside the hearing. Navalny’s media complained that their representatives were not allowed inside.
However, Russia is in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, and in reality, his channel, Navalny Live, is not an accredited news outlet with credentials in Russia.
During the hearing, Mr. Navalny addressed his fans. He suggested for his support base to start street protests. This is a very careless call to make, especially in the midst of the second wave of the Coronavirus pandemic. Also, the protests could turn violent. The same call was made by US President Donald Trump, which resulted in the deaths of five people and his second impeachment.
According to both lawyers representing Mr. Navalny, the process is unconstitutional. However, it was an expected outcome. There was a very slim chance that Mr. Navalny would get house arrest until the court hearing for January 29th.
Nevertheless, as I pointed out yesterday, the docket for January 29th did not look the same. Therefore, it was plausible that the events of Monday were expected to proceed in such a manner.
The Russian court ruled that Mr. Navalny will be held for 30 days in the Matrosskaya Tishina prison. It should be noted that Matrosskaya Tishina has an elite building, dubbed “Kremlin Central.”
Mr. Navalny is also expected to be in quarantine for a minimum of a week to rule out the Coronavirus. It is expected that he will be transferred to “Kremlin Central” general population within 14 days.
It should be noted that the jail houses large scale bureaucrats and high profile inmates. Family members are allowed to deliver goods that are on the approved list. It also has a gourmet restaurant that inmates can order from, if they have the funds on their account.
Surely, Mr. Navalny is not going to starve and will be getting high-end meals. Therefore, he is not a martyr in a true sense. Yet, the world is reacting with such outrage.
At the same time, people forget the two Canadians being held in China for political reasons under harsh conditions, and there is no world outrage or sanctions against China. It seems Mr. Navalny is worth more than the Canadian nationals.
Furthermore, it is highly likely that Navalny will be given a real prison term. Hence, his original 3.5 years probation will be replaced with a real term. Given the time frame, he would most likely serve 2.5 years in one of the Russian prisons.
His political activism would be derailed. He will follow the fate of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and leave Russia after serving his prison term. His attempt at becoming a career politician in Russia is coming to an end.
For the time being, it is plausible that Mr. Navalny will be replaced by Lyubov Sobol, who is a candidate in the upcoming Duma elections this fall. It is very unlikely that Mr. Navalny’s wife Yulia Navalnaya will take over his work. If she does, she will be have to leave Russia and live in exile, like Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya.
Overall, it is clear the protests by the Navalny supporters will continue through the month of January. However, these will be controlled and, unfortunately, the Coronavirus pandemic is disregarded by the Navalny camp. The spotlight on Russia will continue.