Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny accused authorities on Tuesday of wanting to put him behind bars during the upcoming presidential election.
Mr. Navalny, who is barred from running in the March 18 polls over a criminal conviction his supporters say is politically motivated, had called for a boycott of the election.
“A court hearing regarding Navalny will take place on March 5,” a spokeswoman for Moscow’s Tverskoi district court, Svetlana Skachkova, told AFP.
— Meduza in English (@meduza_en) February 27, 2018
The 41-year-old opposition politician was briefly detained last week over an unauthorised January 28 protest, formally charged and then released. He faces up to 30 days behind bars.
“Apparently the ingenious plan is for me to walk free on April 5,” Mr. Navalny wrote in his blog, claiming the authorities wanted to keep him in jail on election day and straight after, to prevent him from staging opposition rallies.
Last week Mr. Navalny’s campaign chief Leonid Volkov was detained at a Moscow airport, with police charging him over the same January 28 protest. He was arrested by a Moscow court for 30 days and would not be released until after the election.
Mr. Navalny is seen by many as the only politician with enough stamina to take on President Vladimir Putin. The Russian president is widely expected to easily win a fourth Kremlin term and extend his grip on power until 2024, becoming the country’s longest-serving leader since Stalin.