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Iran Press TV

Russia slams foreign diplomats' presence at Navalny hearing as meddling

Iran Press TV

Tuesday, 02 February 2021 11:35 AM

Russia says the presence of foreign diplomats at a court hearing for Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny is evidence of Western meddling in Moscow's internal affairs.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Facebook on Tuesday that the diplomats' presence was proof of the West's attempts to contain Russia.

A court in Moscow is considering whether to jail Navalny for up to three and a half years for repeated parole violations.

According to TASS, some 20 diplomats arrived at a Moscow City Court where the case was being considered earlier on Tuesday. The diplomats included those from the United States, Bulgaria, Poland, Latvia, Austria, and Switzerland.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin expressed hope that the European Union (EU) would not link its ties with Russia to Navalny's case, and vowed to respond in kind to any harsh criticism over the issue from the bloc.

"We hope that such nonsense as linking the prospects of Russia-EU relations with the resident of a detention center will not happen," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Tuesday.

His remarks come as the EU's foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell is due to visit Moscow on February 4-6.

The Kremlin said that Russia would not be lectured on the matter by the EU.

Navalny, 44, collapsed during a domestic Russian flight on August 20 and was taken to a local hospital. He was airlifted to Berlin on August 22. Navalny's aides claimed he had been poisoned after drinking a bottle of water at a hotel before the flight.

On September 2, Germany claimed without evidence that the Russian opposition figure had been poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent.

The Russian doctors who tested Navalny's blood for poisoning before he was moved to Germany said at the time that the test results had come back negative.

Western governments have nevertheless been attacking Russia with accusations that it poisoned Navalny, saying Moscow must help investigate the case or face consequences.

The Russian government has denied any involvement in any attack on Navalny, who was discharged from a Berlin hospital in September.

Last month, Russia's prison service called on Navalny to return from Germany and abide to the terms of a suspended prison sentence he was still serving or face its transformation into to a real jail term.

Navalny received a suspended three-and-a-half-year prison term over a theft case on December 30, 2014. His five-year probation period expired on January 2.

The opposition figure returned to Russia on January 17 and was detained on arrival for violating the terms of his suspended sentence.

Since then, Navalny has been calling on Russians to rally against the government of President Vladimir Putin.

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