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Russia: Alexei Navalny jailed for 15 days

President Vladimir Putin’s critic Alexei Navalny has been sentenced to 15 days in prison for handing out leaflets to publicize a forthcoming demonstration.

The Russian opposition leader’s imprisonment bars him from taking part in the planned rally on March 1.

Alexei Navalny was given a suspended sentence for defrauding two companies in December. He says the legal cases against him are motivated by his opposition to President Vladimir Putin.

He left the courthouse on February 19 in a police car and wearing handcuffs.

Alexei Navalny urged his followers to attend the rally against President Vladimir Putin’s policies.Alexei Navalny jailed 2015

The law he breached is one that restricts demonstrations.

“To ease the economic and political crisis we have to pressure the authorities. Let’s go to the anti-crisis rally,” Alexei Navalny said in a video posted on his Twitter account.

Correspondents say that although Alexei Navalny has little chance of posing a serious challenge to Vladimir Putin, he had pledged to lead 100,000 demonstrators in the march, which he says is against Kremlin policies that are leading Russia into a severe economic crisis.

Alexei Navalny led Moscow street protests against President Vladimir Putin between 2011 and 2012.

Last year Alexei Navalny and his brother Oleg were accused of stealing 30 million rubles ($462,000) from two companies.

Oleg Navalny was given a three-and-a-half-year jail sentence, while his brother was given a suspended sentence that prosecutors say they will appeal against.

Critics of the Kremlin and the US say that Alexei Navalny’s case is an attempt to stifle political dissent.

Since he was sentenced, Alexei Navalny has taken an increasingly defiant stance, cutting off his house arrest tag in January.

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