A Russian court has sentenced opposition leader Alexei Navalny to 30 days in jail after convicting him of breaking public protest laws, a move that will prevent him from leading a planned anti-government rally against pension reform next month.
Navalny, who was detained by police outside his home on Saturday, was found guilty of breaking protest legislation for organizing a street rally in Moscow on January 28 despite the authorities having refused to approve it.
Navalny, who rejects the idea that the authorities should have the right to pre-approve any protests, told the court he believed the authorities were jailing him for the offence over six months later in order to stop him taking part in a protest planned for September 9 against plans to raise the retirement age.
That is the same day as Moscow elects a new mayor, a contest expected to be easily won by incumbent Sergei Sobyanin, an ally of President Vladimir Putin, and authorities have rejected an application by Navalny's supporters to rally in central Moscow.
"This trial is happening with the single aim of not allowing me to take part in the protest against raising the retirement age," Navalny told the presiding judge. "You and I both know it."
The opposition politician, who was barred from taking part in a presidential election earlier this year, is hoping to tap into public anger over government plans to raise the retirement age to 65 from 60 for men and to 63 from 55 for women.
Opinion polls show most Russians strongly oppose the plan.