Navalny Lawyer Sobol's Suspended Sentence Converted To Prison Term

A court in Moscow has replaced the 18-month parole-like sentence handed to opposition politician Lyubov Sobol, a close associate of jailed anti-corruption campaigner Aleksei Navalny, to actual prison time, saying she had violated the terms of her punishment by leaving the country.

The Simonovsky district court, on April 14, approved the request by the Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) to replace the parole-like sentence handed to Sobol in August 2021 for publicly calling for the violation of coronavirus safety precautions.

The charge has been widely used against those who were involved in nationwide protests against the jailing of Navalny, President Vladimir Putin's most vocal critic.

The 34-year-old Sobol fled Russia in August. Media reports have said that Sobol is currently in neighboring Estonia.

Sobol's lawyer, Vladimir Voronin, said after the court handed down the ruling that the decision meant his client must serve her sentence's remaining five months and 26 days in prison, given her time already spent in detention.

In December, the same court ruled to convert Sobol's suspended one-year sentence into an actual prison term in another case.

In mid-April 2021, the Magistrate court of Moscow found Sobol guilty of illegally forcing her way into the apartment of Federal Security Service (FSB) officer Konstantin Kudryavtsev in December 2020, hours after Navalny had published a recording of what he said was a phone conversation with Kudryavtsev.

During the 49-minute phone call, in which Navalny posed as an FSB official conducting an internal review, Kudryavtsev described the details of an operation to poison the Kremlin critic in August 2020.

Sobol described the court's decision as a ruling designed to silence her.

In October, Sobol was added to the database of wanted persons of the Interior Ministry, with a designation that she is "wanted under an article of the Criminal Code."

Navalny was arrested after returning to Russia from Germany in January 2021, where he was treated for a near-fatal poisoning with a Novichok-type nerve agent that he says was ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Kremlin has denied any role in the incident, which was the latest of numerous attacks on Navalny.

In February 2021, Navalny was convicted of violating the terms of a suspended sentence related to an embezzlement case that he has called politically motivated. The remainder of his suspended sentence, 2 1/2 years, was changed to real prison time.

Last month, a court sentenced Navalny to nine years in prison after finding him guilty of embezzlement and contempt charges in a separate case that Navalny and his supporters also rejected as politically motivated.

With reporting by RIA Novosti, TASS, and Interfax