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Russia sentences Navalny spokeswoman for virus breaches

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Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s spokesperson Kira Yarmysh accused of breaching COVID-19 safety regulations speaks with journalists after a court hearing in Moscow, Russia August 16, 2021. REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina

A Russian court on Monday sentenced the spokeswoman for jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny to 18 months of restricted movement for breaching coronavirus regulations.

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Kira Yarmysh is among several opposition figures accused of calling for unsanctioned protests in January after Navalny was arrested on his return to Russia from Germany, where he was recovering from a poisoning attack.

She has been under house arrest since February.

“Kira has been sentenced to 1.5 years of restricted movement,” said a message on her Twitter account, which is currently being run by her allies.

Under the terms of her sentence, Yarmysh — a well-known figure in opposition circles who has been Navalny’s spokeswoman since 2014 — will be banned from mass events and leaving Moscow without permission from authorities, Moscow’s Preobrazhensky district court told TASS state news agency.

Kremlin critics say authorities have piled pressure on the opposition ahead of a parliamentary vote in September, with Navalny proposing a strategy to vote out candidates from the ruling United Russia party.

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In June, Russia labelled Navalny’s key organisations as extremist and barred his allies from running in the polls.

Navalny, President Vladimir Putin’s most vocal domestic critic, is currently serving two and a half years in jail on old fraud charges.

Last week Russian investigators charged Navalny, 45, with a new crime that could keep him behind bars for another three years.

Criminal cases have also been launched against Navalny’s key aides Leonid Volkov and Ivan Zhdanov for raising funds for an “extremist” organisation, charges that carry a maximum penalty of eight years.

Volkov and Zhdanov, and several other Navalny allies have fled Russia under pressure from authorities.

Earlier this month, Navalny aide Lyubov Sobol was sentenced to a year and half of restricted movement on the same charges as Yarmysh.

Navalny’s brother Oleg was handed a one-year suspended sentence in the same case.

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