One of the closest aides of jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny – lawyer and journalist Lyubov Sobol – has been sentenced to a year of community service for trespass.
She was found guilty of forcibly entering the apartment of an alleged agent suspected of involvement in last year’s chemical attack on Navalny.
Denying trespass, she said she had just knocked on Konstantin Kudryavtsev’s door, hoping to interview him.
Navalny is on hunger strike in jail.
Sobol is a key player in Navalny’s team – she has presented videos exposing alleged corruption in President Vladimir Putin’s administration. She called her sentence “a disgrace” and wore a T-shirt bearing the question: “Where’s the criminal investigation into the poisoning of Navalny?”
Guards in camouflage gear and bullet-proof vests stood in front of her in court to prevent her filming the proceedings on her phone.
Navalny’s wife Yulia Navalnaya said on Tuesday she had visited him at the penal colony where he has been incarcerated since February, and he was “cheerful” but weak. They were only allowed to speak by phone, through a screen.
Navalny has been on hunger strike for more than two weeks, to demand proper medical treatment. He has complained on Instagram of not receiving medical help for back pain and problems with his right leg, as well as being deprived of sleep.
Only an emergency landing and intensive care saved his life last August when he collapsed on a flight over Siberia. Doctors in Omsk treated him and later, after his transfer to a Berlin hospital, toxicology experts concluded that he had been attacked with the Russian nerve agent Novichok.
While recovering in December Navalny tricked the alleged Federal Security Service (FSB) agent, Konstantin Kudryavtsev, into revealing details of the Novichok attack. Navalny posted the recording on his YouTube channel. Describing the targeting of Navalny by a team of agents, Mr Kudryavtsev said the Novichok had been planted in a pair of Navalny’s underpants.
Navalny returned to Russia in January, where he was immediately arrested, then sentenced to two-and-a-half years in a penal colony over an old embezzlement conviction.
His return triggered huge street demonstrations by his nationwide network of supporters, and many were detained in a police crackdown.
On Wednesday Russian police raided the offices of a pro-Navalny student magazine, DOXA, and charged four staff with inciting children to protest.
Last week police searched the home of another journalist, Roman Anin. His investigative website reports on alleged high-level corruption.