Moscow — Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny, who was detained Sunday immediately upon his return to Moscow after recovering from nerve-agent poisoning, was put before a judge on Monday morning at a police station, instead of a normal courtroom, for a hearing his lawyers had no time to prepare for. The judge accepted a request by Russian police for Navalny to be remanded in custody for 30 days.
Navalny slammed the proceedings as a mockery of justice, criticized President Vladimir Putin’s 20-year rule, and called on his supporters in Russia to take to the streets in protest.
“Don’t be afraid,” he said in a video posted to one of his official YouTube channels. “Do not be silent. Resist. Take to the streets. No one but ourselves will protect us, and there are so many of us that if we want to achieve something, we will achieve it. ”
The video message was recorded in the same room of a police station on the outskirts of Moscow where the impromptu hearing took place earlier. Navalny’s lawyers were not allowed to see the politician prior to the hearing, and they learned it was about to happen just minutes before it began.
The judge gave Navalny’s defense team 30 minutes to familiarize themselves with the case materials and another 20 minutes to communicate with their client.
“I’ve seen a lot of mockery of justice… But this is impossible what is happening now,” Navalny said in a separate cell phone video posted to Twitter by his press secretary ahead of the surprise hearing. “It is the highest degree of lawlessness.”
When the hearing resumed, Russian police asked the court to place Navalny formally under arrest for 30 days, and the judge granted the request. Navalny’s legal team confirmed that a hearing was scheduled for February 2 for Navalny to face the charges on which he was officially detained — for violating the parole terms of a previous suspended sentence.
Navalny’s detention drew immediate condemnation from European and U.S. officials, and the United Nations.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called for the Russian dissident’s “immediate and unconditional release,” in a statement issued on Sunday, and called his detention, “the latest in a series of attempts to silence Navalny and other opposition figures.”
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, also called for Navalny’s immediate release.
“The perpetrators of the outrageous attack on his life must be held accountable,” Sullivan said. “The Kremlin’s attacks on Mr. Navalny are not just a violation of human rights, but an affront to the Russian people who want their voices heard.”
In London, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Russia should explain how Navalny was attacked on a flight within Russia with a chemical weapon.
“It is appalling that Alexei Navalny, the victim of a despicable crime, has been detained by Russian authorities. He must be immediately released,” Raab said. “Rather than persecuting Mr Navalny, Russia should explain how a chemical weapon came to be used on Russian soil.”
Russian authorities have defended his arrest, and on Monday Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov took a thinly veiled jab at Washington for criticizing his country’s handling of justice matters amid what he suggested was a “crisis” in Western democracy.
“This allows Western politicians to think that by doing this they will be able to divert attention from the deepest crisis in which the liberal model of development finds itself,” Lavrov told reporters in response to the criticism from Washington and Europe.
Navalny announced his plan to return home from Berlin last week, despite a new criminal case having recently been opened against him on fraud charges. Days earlier, Russia’s prisons authority also petitioned a court to replace Navalny’s three-and-a-half year suspended sentence with a new jail term.
He would have known the risks, but on the plane, he had said it was his “best day in five months,” because he was going home.
Navalny’s supporters in the Russian opposition dismiss all the legal threats against him as contrived political persecution.
The Kremlin’s fiercest critic became violently ill on a domestic flight five months ago. After several days of treatment in Siberia, he was eventually airlifted in a coma to Berlin, where toxicology reports confirmed he’d been poisoned with the same kind of Novichok nerve agent used in a 2018 attack on a former Russian double agent in England.
In an interview with “60 Minutes” correspondent Lesley Stahl, Navalny laid the blame for his poisoning on Russian President Vladimir Putin himself.
“I don’t think,” he said. “I’m sure that he is responsible.”
The Kremlin has denied any involvement.
Navanly was traveling with his wife and a team of allies on Sunday when he returned to Moscow. The others were allowed to pass freely through border control, where Navalny was whisked away into custody after giving his wife a kiss goodbye.
CBS News’ Charlie D’Agata and Tucker Reals contributed to this report.