Russian Opposition Leader’s Aides in Jail Over Forming ‘Negative Image’ of Putin

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny's campaign team plans to appeal the Central Election Commission's refusal to admit him to the presidential election to the European Court of Human Rights. Photo: AFP

Russian courts on Wednesday sentenced two spokespeople and a regional campaigner of opposition leader Alexei Navalny to jail time after nationwide protests over the weekend.

Kira Yarmysh and Ruslan Shaveddinov were outside Russia when they hosted the YouTube live coverage of the rallies called by Mr. Navalny on Sunday. They were held by police on Tuesday as they flew into a Moscow airport.

Ms. Yarmysh tweeted from Moscow’s Simonovsky District Court that Mr. Shaveddinov was sentenced to eight days behind bars on an administrative charge of holding an unsanctioned rally. Ms. Yarmysh was herself sentenced to five days in jail.

Russian website MediaZona, which tracks arrests and court hearings, quoted the judge as saying that Ms. Yarmysh and Mr. Shaveddinov committed their violation “in order to form a negative image of one of the registered (presidential) candidates,” referring to President Vladimir Putin.

In a court in Saint Petersburg, the regional coordinator of Navalny’s campaign, Denis Mikhailov, received a 30 day sentence, tweeted Mr. Navalny’s head of staff Leonid Volkov.

Heeding a call by Mr. Putin’s bete noire Mr. Navalny, thousands of Russians on Sunday staged rallies in dozens of cities to protest March elections widely expected to extend the Russian leader’s Kremlin term to 2024.

Authorities had warned Russians against taking part in unsanctioned rallies.

Police broke into Navalny’s Moscow headquarters using a saw in order to interrupt a marathon live broadcast of the rallies, but Ms. Yarmysh and Mr. Shaveddinov kept reporting from an undisclosed location.

Mr. Navalny himself was detained soon after he appeared at a Moscow rally on Sunday but was released later that day, while several of his team members were sentenced to short jail terms.

‘This is Our Country’: Thousands of Russians Protest Against Presidential Election