Hours after being spared prison on Tuesday in a criminal fraud trial widely viewed as political revenge, the Kremlin’s chief antagonist, Aleksei A. Navalny, broke out of house arrest and tried to join an unsanctioned antigovernment rally, daring the authorities to throw him in jail.
They refrained, but in a twist that clearly caught Mr. Navalny, the normally unruffled political opposition leader off guard, the court ordered that his younger brother, Oleg, who was also charged in the fraud case, serve three and half years in prison.
The jailing of the brother, a former postal worker generally viewed as a pawn in a larger battle, signaled that the Kremlin was adopting a heavy-handed strategy in seeking to suppress Mr. Navalny’s political activities by sidelining him without transforming him into a martyr.
En uiteraard is voor iedereen duidelijk wat het doel is van deze veroordeling is:
“Kremlin liberalism,” Lilia Shevtsova, an expert on Russian domestic politics at the Brookings Institution, wrote in a post on Facebook. “Let’s put him on a long leash. We can always shorten it. And the brother gets a real sentence. This means that we take a family member hostage! And we can make his life in prison unbearable.”