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Russian opposition leader Navalny sent to prison outside Moscow

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By Euronews  with AP
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny in a Moscow court on February 20
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny in a Moscow court on February 20   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko

The Russina opposition leader Alexei Navalny, handed a two and a half year jail sentence, has been moved to a prison outside Moscow, his lawyer said.

Navalny’s incarceration has led to international calls for his immediate release, including from Europe’s top human rights court.

His lawyer, Vadim Kobzev, didn't immediately say what prison he was sent to, but Russian news reports have previously indicated he would likely be sent to a facility in western Russia.

Navalny, 44, was arrested on January 17 upon returning from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from a nerve-agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin.

He was arrested for violating the terms of his probation while in Germany.

Russian authorities have rejected the accusation and accused Navalny of cooperating with Western intelligence agencies — claims he has ridiculed.

His prison sentence stems from a 2014 embezzlement conviction that Navalny has rejected as fabricated — and which the European Сourt of Human Rights has ruled to be unlawful.

His arrest fuelled a wave of protests that drew tens of thousands to streets across Russia, with authorities detaining around 11,000 people.

Russian officials have dismissed demands from the United States and the European Union to free Navalny and stop the crackdown on his supporters.

Moscow also rejected the ECHR call for his release, with the court citing risks to Navalny's life in custody.

The Russian government has rebuffed the court's demand as unlawful and “inadmissible” meddling in Russia’s home affairs.

Earlier this week, EU foreign ministers agreed to impose new sanctions against Russian officials linked to Navalny’s jailing.