MOSCOW (Reuters) – A Russian court on Tuesday weighed whether to jail Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny for up to three and a half years in a case that has sparked nationwide protests and talk of new Western sanctions.
Navalny, one of President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent critics, was arrested at the Russian border on Jan. 17 for alleged parole violations after returning from Germany where he had been recovering from a nerve agent poisoning in Russia.
Navalny accuses Putin of ordering his murder, which the Kremlin denies. It has suggested that Navalny is a CIA asset, a charge he rejects, and has told the West to stay out of its domestic affairs.
A serious jail term for Navalny would become a point of tension with the West, like the case of oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, another Putin critic, who spent 10 years in prison after being arrested in 2003.