MOSCOW — A Russian court docket cleared the best way on Saturday for the attainable 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 change into the nation’s most vocal critic of President Vladimir V. Putin.
The court docket rejected Mr. Navalny’s final attainable enchantment earlier than such a switch. But it surely stays unclear whether or not or when he’ll go away his cell in a high-security jail in Moscow. He may very well 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 12 months — an act that he and Western governments blamed on the Kremlin. He returned regardless of figuring out that his homecoming would nearly certainly land him in jail, a problem that gave rise to mass road protests in assist 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 extra sanctions on Moscow. On Tuesday, the European Courtroom of Human Rights, whose jurisdiction is acknowledged by Russia, ruled that Mr. Navalny have to 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 critical try and intervene in inside judicial issues of Russia.”
In his last argument in court docket on Saturday, Mr. Navalny quoted from the Bible, saying that fact would triumph. He additionally advised his followers to not really feel abandoned.
“Our authorities is attempting to persuade those that they’re on their own,” he mentioned.
Over the previous month, Mr. Navalny’s allies have organized two countrywide protests in his assist 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 steadily earlier than, however just for temporary stints in Moscow, and he has by no means been despatched to a penal colony.
Below Russia’s legal justice system, transferring an inmate to the penal colonies is a prolonged means of journey on a specialised prisoner prepare wagon. It could possibly start at any level after a court docket rejects the primary enchantment 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 legal professionals or relations. Their vacation spot generally 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 not 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 doubtlessly 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.