Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny has been placed in a cell in Moscow’s notorious Matrosskaya Tishina (Sailor’s Silence) detention center after a judge at a hastily arranged hearing ruled to keep the Kremlin critic in custody for 30 days following his dramatic airport arrest upon arrival from Germany.
The 44-year-old outspoken Kremlin critic was arrested at Sheremetyevo International Airport’s passport control booth after he arrived on January 17 from Berlin, where he had been recovering from a poison attack in August that Navalny says was ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Aleksei Melnikov, secretary of the Public Monitoring Commission human rights group, wrote on Telegram late on January 18 that he had visited Navalny in his cell in the detention center.
Melnikov said that Navalny is being kept isolated in a three-bed cell since he has to be quarantined for two weeks according to coronavirus regulations for people arriving from abroad.
Melnikov wrote that Navalny thanked his supporters and said that he was happy to be back in Russia. Navalny said that there was no moral or physical pressure on him from the detention center’s personnel, according to Melnikov.
At the January 18 hearing held in an improvised court at a police station outside Moscow, which Navalny called a “mockery of justice,” the judge ruled to keep him incarcerated until February 15.
On February 2, a different court is expected to decide whether to convert into jail time a suspended 3 1/2 year sentence, which Navalny was given in an embezzlement case that he says was trumped up.
After the court’s decision, Navalny and his associates urged Russians to take to the streets in protest.
Navalny’s detention has sparked global outrage and a chorus of international calls pressuring the Kremlin for his immediate release.
In St. Petersburg, police detained at least 20 people among a crowd of hundreds of Navalny supporters who had gathered on January 18 at the Gostiny Dvor trade complex.
People were also detained during similar rallies in support of the politician in Moscow and Khimki, near the capital.