MOSCOW — A Russian court docket cleared the best way on Saturday for the doable switch of the opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny to the country’s penal colony system, the newest step by authorities to silence the person who has develop into the nation’s most vocal critic of President Vladimir V. Putin.
The court docket rejected Mr. Navalny’s final doable attraction earlier than such a switch. Nevertheless it stays unclear whether or not or when he’ll depart his cell in a high-security jail in Moscow. He could possibly be held there for additional court docket appearances on different pending authorized issues.
Mr. Navalny was detained in January upon returning from Germany, the place he was being handled for a near-lethal poisoning with a nerve agent final yr — an act that he and Western governments blamed on the Kremlin. He returned regardless of realizing that his homecoming would virtually certainly land him in jail, a problem that gave rise to mass road protests in help of him.
The ruling, which was anticipated, upheld Mr. Navalny’s sentence of greater than two years in jail and set Russia on a collision course with Western nations, which may impose further sanctions on Moscow. On Tuesday, the European Courtroom of Human Rights, whose jurisdiction is acknowledged by Russia, ruled that Mr. Navalny should be launched instantly from jail.
The Kremlin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, rejected that demand and referred to as the Strasbourg-based court docket’s ruling “a severe try and intervene in inside judicial issues of Russia.”
In his closing argument in court docket on Saturday, Mr. Navalny quoted from the Bible, saying that reality would triumph. He additionally informed his followers to not really feel abandoned.
“Our authorities is making an attempt to persuade those that they’re on their lonesome,” he mentioned.
Over the previous month, Mr. Navalny’s allies have organized two countrywide protests in his help that drew tens of 1000’s to the streets. The police arrested 1000’s.
The poisoning, the sentencing and the crackdown on protesters all signaled a pivot by Mr. Putin to harder-line home insurance policies. Mr. Navalny had been jailed regularly earlier than, however just for transient stints in Moscow, and he has by no means been despatched to a penal colony.
Underneath Russia’s felony justice system, transferring an inmate to the penal colonies is a prolonged means of journey on a specialised prisoner prepare wagon. It may start at any level after a court docket rejects the primary attraction of a sentencing, which occurred on Saturday.
The journey can take weeks, with stops at switch prisons, throughout which inmates are usually not allowed to contact attorneys or members of the family. Their vacation spot typically stays unknown till they arrive.
Mr. Navalny can petition the European Courtroom of Human Rights on grounds that its demand to launch him has gone unheeded. Though the court docket can’t legally compel Russia to abide by its ruling, the dispute may escalate to the European Council, the political physique that contains the leaders of European Union member states. It may additionally probably result in Russia’s expulsion or withdrawal from that group.
It might be a major breach. Russia joined the Council in 1996, signaling an finish to the Chilly Warfare division of Europe on human rights points.
Andrew E. Kramer contributed reporting.