Navalny Hearing On Anti-Putin 'Not Our Tsar' Protests Postponed

A Moscow court opened a hearing in a case against Aleksei Navalny over nationwide protests but swiftly rescheduled it for May 15, prompting sardonic criticism from the opposition politician.

Navalny was detained at a rally in Moscow on May 5, one of dozens of demonstrations organized by supporters across Russia to protest President Vladimir Putin's inauguration to a new six-year term two days later.

The vocal Putin foe was released hours later but is charged with repeatedly violating regulations for public gatherings and refusing to comply with police. He could be jailed for 45 days if found guilty of the two administrative violations.

Navalny told journalists after the hearing that "what happens in court actually has nothing to do with the judgment" in the case, which he suggested would be made by Putin and handed down to the court.

"I think there's just no decision yet. Putin is busy," Navalny tweeted later.

He joked that after putting former sports minister Vitaly Mutko in charge of matters related to construction, Putin is busy trying to decide whether to name boxer Andrei Valuyev or conservative monarchist Natalya Poklonskaya as minister of science.

"And until he makes that decision, he has no time for me," Navalny added in the tweet.

Navalny was one of hundreds of people apprehended in Moscow and over 1,600 people detained nationwide during the May 5 protests, which he dubbed "He's Not Our Tsar."

Foreign governments criticized the arrests and the conduct of police during the demonstrations, in which officers and men in Cossack-style uniforms in several cities beat protesters with truncheons and dragged them along the ground.

Russian journalist and commentator Maksim Shevchenko announced on May 10 that he is quitting Putin's advisory Human Rights Council over its refusal to convene for a meeting focusing on the dispersal of protests.

Announcing his decision to quit the council, Shevchenko said that the "mass arrests of citizens and their brutal beating by unknown armed units in the center of the Russian capital require an open and high-profile meeting."

Vladimir Pozner, a prominent journalist who quit the council earlier, voiced support for Shevchenko's decision and said that the advisory body is "not an independent structure."

Navaly, who has already served several jail terms on charges related to organizing antigovernment protests, was carried away from the rally in central Moscow by his arms and legs.

Putin, who has been president or prime minister since 1999, was sworn in for a new six-year term on May 7 after a landslide victory in a March 18 election.

The vote was marred by allegations of fraud and what international observers said was the lack of a genuine choice.

Navalny sought to challenge Putin but was barred from the ballot due to a conviction in a financial-crimes case that he and supporters contend was fabricated to keep him out of electoral politics.

With reporting by Mediazona, Meduza, and AFP