A Win For Russia’s Protestors

Navalny was released on bail today, while his appeal is pending:

Alexei Navalny’s lawyer called the decision to release him on bail, just a day after he was sentenced to five years in prison, as “unprecedented”. The judge in the northern city of Kirov ruled that keeping President Vladimir Putin’s opponent in custody would deprive him of his right to stand in mayoral elections in Moscow on September 8.

Tim Sampson looks ahead:

If Navalny is jailed during the campaign, there will likely be unrest similar to what was witnessed after his conviction. If he loses, many will question the legitimacy of the results. This is especially true, given the public scrutiny this ongoing trial has generated. And if Navalny somehow wins and assumes office, the continuing appeal means that the elected mayor of Moscow could find himself removed from office and jailed on dubious charges.

Benjamin Bidder notes that the Russian government has boosted Navalny’s profile:

Hardly any of Putin’s friends can be happy about seeing Navalny behind bars. “I never saw any potential in Navalny, but now he has some,” confessed Tina Kandelaki, a journalist and television host close to the Putin government. Behind such comments are the misgiving that, by trying to defeat their sharpest critic, those in power might really only be strengthening him.

Will Englund checks the timeline:

An appeal of a court decision in Russia typically takes about six weeks — which would bring Navalny right up to Moscow’s election day.