MOSCOW (AP) – A Russian court on Thursday rejected an appeal from opposition leader Alexei Navalny to his release from prison while authorities detained several of his allies and warned social media companies against more protests after tens of thousands gathered across the country last weekend to demand his freedom

Navalny appeared in court via video link from prison and condemned the criminal case against him as part of a government campaign to intimidate the opposition

“You won’t be able to scare tens of millions of people robbed by this government,” he said, “Yes, you have the power to handcuff me now, but it won’t take forever”

44-year-old Navalny, the best-known critic of President Vladimir Putin’s government, was arrested on January 17 after returning from Germany, where he was recovering from nerve agent poisoning for five months, which he accuses the Kremlin Russian authorities have the allegations rejected

Navalny was arrested and detained for 30 days after Russian Prison Service alleged he had violated his suspended sentence for being convicted of money laundering in 2014 and denying it as politically motivated, and will also face two separate criminal cases accused

Before the Moscow District Court dismissed his appeal, defense lawyers argued that Navalny could not register with the authorities while recovering from poisoning in Germany, as the terms of his parole mandate.His lawyers also said Navalny’s legal rights during his Arrest were repeatedly injured

Navalny described his prison as a mockery of justice

after an earlier hearing at a police station

“It was demonstrative lawlessness that should frighten me and everyone else,” he told the Moscow court

Navalny supporters are organizing another round of rallies for Sunday Police on Wednesday raided Navalny’s apartment, rented accommodation where his wife Yulia lived, and the homes of several of his employees and supporters

Navalny’s brother Oleg was also imprisoned; his chief ally, Lyubov Sobol; Oleg Stepanov, head of the Navalny Moscow office; DR Anastasia Vasilyeva of the Navalny Supported Doctors Alliance; and Maria Alyokhina of the Pussy Riot Punk Collective.They were detained for 48 hours on a criminal investigation into alleged coronavirus violations during the protests on Saturday

Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the searches and detentions were a legitimate part of police efforts to investigate the alleged violations during the events

“Law enforcement agencies are doing their job,” Peskov said on a conference call with reporters. “There have been numerous violations of Russian law and law enforcement agencies are at work”

Demonstrations took place in more than 100 Russian cities on Saturday demanding the release of Navalny This was a strong sign of growing anger towards the Kremlin. Reports say that nearly 4 were raised in these protests000 people arrested and some sentenced to fines and prison terms

At Thursday’s trial, Navalny thanked his supporters and said, “They are the last barrier that prevents our country from sliding into humiliation”

In a later post on Instagram, he urged Russians to give up their fear and take to the streets to put pressure on Putin and his entourage

“Come out and be afraid of nothing,” said Navalny. “Nobody wants to live in a country where lawlessness and corruption run amok The majority is on our side, let’s wake them up”

Moscow police said 267 people were convicted of violations and 110 of them were sentenced to short sentences during the weekend demonstrations in the capital, urging the public not to join the protests on Sunday, warning that officials would act decisively to disperse unauthorized rallies and bring the participants to justice

Also on Thursday, Russian prosecutors warned Facebook, Google, Twitter, TikTok and Russian social networks, demanding that they block calls for further protests

“The state does not want social networks to become a platform for promoting such illegal actions,” said Peskov

When asked whether a refusal to remove such content could lead the Russian authorities to block the platforms, Peskov said it was up to the relevant government agencies to look into an answer

“All pros and cons are weighed and if necessary, statutory measures are taken,” he said

Earlier this week, Russian state communications watchdog Roskomnadzor said Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube and two Russian social networks were being punished for failing to prevent minors from joining the protests on Saturday / p>

A spokesperson for Facebook responded to the AP’s request for comment by saying, “There are times when we resort to requests from the government to remove content that doesn’t break our rules and is a clear political speech””

“We took this step in Russia to facilitate a speech on last week’s protests,” the spokesman added in a statement to the AP

Google and TikTok failed to respond to requests for comment on the Russian authorities’ actions, and Twitter on Thursday refused to comment on The Associated Press

The Russian investigative committee said it had opened a criminal investigation into Navalny’s leading strategist Leonid Volkov, accusing him of encouraging minors to attend unauthorized rallies, Volkov, who is currently staying abroad, dismissed the charges

“The streets need to talk now. Nothing left,” Volkov tweeted after Navalny’s call for release was rejected, reiterating the call for the Russians to go into effect on Sunday

In a challenge to Putin two days after Navalny’s arrest, his organization released a detailed video report of a palatial coastal area allegedly built for the president and equipped with fancy amenities, such as a mysterious “aqua disco” that is a stream of sarcastic jokes Web The video has been viewed over 99 million times, fueling dissatisfaction

“If only 2% of the audience take to the streets, it is enough to bring all visitors to the” Aquadiskothek “to their senses,” said Navalny on Instagram

Navalny fell into a coma in August 20 during a domestic flight from Siberia to Moscow. Two days later he was rushed to a Berlin hospital. Laboratories in Germany, France and Sweden, and tests by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons revealed that he was the nerve agent Novichok from the Soviet era was exposed

The Russian authorities have refused to open a full criminal investigation because there is no evidence that he was poisoned

The arrest of Navalny and the tough police actions during the protests have provoked widespread criticism from the West and are calling for his release

Russian President Vladimir Putin

World News – USA – Navalny defiant as Russian court rejects his offer for freedom