Moment Putin laughs at journalist who asked whether he will end Navalny crackdown

said the jailed Kremlin critic Mr Navalny “ignored” the law and suggested Mr Navalny knew he would be detained but returned to Russia anyway. He told reporters: “He knew full well he violated Russian law and has to understand he is a repeat offender. He deliberately violated this law and went abroad to receive medical treatment.

“Once he was out of the hospital and posted a video online he ignored the requirement of the law.

“He knew he was wanted. But he came back to Russia and deliberately wanted to be arrested.

“What can we say?

“I believe it’s pretty simple and is clear to everyone. If you could just have an unbiased coverage of this I would appreciate it.”

US President Joe Biden said on Monday that the potential death of Mr Navalny would be a tragedy and would hurt Russian relations with the rest of the world and with the United States.

He said: “Navalny’s death would be another indication that Russia has little or no intention of abiding by basic fundamental human rights, it would be a tragedy, it would do nothing but hurt relations with.

It comes as an ally of Mr Navalny said on Monday she was halting her run for a seat in Russia’s parliament because of a law barring members of organisations declared “extremist” by the authorities from running for office.

Lyubov Sobol said she was compelled to stop her campaign in response to a court ruling last week that outlawed groups linked to Navalny after branding them “extremist”.

Navalny, who is serving 2-1/2 years in jail on embezzlement charges he says are trumped up, and his allies have accused the authorities of using the law to crush opposition to the ruling United Russia party ahead of September parliamentary elections.

“My popularity angers the authorities,” Sobol, a lawyer at Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, wrote on Facebook. “This is why United Russia and Putin approved a law that bars me from running in elections.”

Sobol said was no longer able to protect her staff and her campaign volunteers when officials were opening criminal cases against people taking part in street protests and supporting the opposition.

Mr Putin this month signed a law that bars members or heads of groups declared extremist from running for seats in the State Duma (lower house of parliament) or taking part in other elections for periods of three to five years.

Sobol was under house arrest for more than a month for allegedly breaching COVID-19 safety regulations at an unsanctioned street rally in support of Navalny. She continues to be prosecuted over the case.

She also served as the producer for the Navalny LIVE YouTube channel, a platform used to discuss topical political issues.


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