Leading Member Of Pussy Riot Handed Parole-Like Sentence

By RFE/RL's Russian Service

MOSCOW -- A Moscow court has sentenced Maria Alyokhina, a leading member of the Pussy Riot protest group, to one year of so-called "restricted freedom," a parole-like sentence, for allegedly violating restrictive measures aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus by calling on people to protest against the detention of opposition politician Aleksei Navalny.

The Preobrazhensky district court handed down the sentence to Alyokhina on September 10 after finding her guilty of publicly calling for people to take part in unsanctioned rallies to support the Kremlin critic in January.

According to the court ruling, Alyokhina is not allowed to leave her home from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m., attend public events, or leave Moscow without police permission.

Alyokhina was one of two Navalny supporters still facing charges for publicly calling for people to take part in the rallies.

The final person whose hearing in the case is pending is the chief of the Physicians' Alliance NGO, Anastasia Vasilyeva.

In the other cases, close associates and supporters of Navalny, including his brother Oleg, have been handed parole-like sentences restricting their freedom in recent weeks.

Media reports said that Navalny’s spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh and his close associate Lyubov Sobol fled Russia after they were sentenced, which had not been confirmed either by the two women or their lawyers.

Aleksei Navalny was arrested on January 17 after returning to Russia from Germany, where he was treated for 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.

More than 10,000 people were rounded up during nationwide rallies protesting Navalny's arrest organized in more than 100 Russian towns and cities on January 23 and January 31.

On February 2, Navalny was convicted of violating the terms of his suspended sentence related to an embezzlement case that he has called politically motivated. The remainder of Navalny's suspended sentence, 2 1/2 years, was then replaced with a real prison term.

That ruling sparked new protests that were also forcibly dispersed by police.

More than 1,400 people were detained by police in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and other Russian cities during those demonstrations.