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Navalny Urges Supporters to Fight For Freedom in First Post After Sentencing

Alexei Navalny was sentenced to two years and eight months in a prison colony. Moscow City Court Press Office / TASS

Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny called on his supporters Thursday to fight fear and free Russia from "a handful of thieves in power," in his first detailed comments since being ordered to serve out a prison sentence.

The 44-year-old anti-corruption campaigner, who was jailed Tuesday on old embezzlement charges, wrote on Instagram that the authorities could only retain power if Russians remained afraid. 

"But we, having overcome fear, can free our homeland from a handful of thieves in power. Let's do it. We must do it."

Navalny returned to Russia last month from Germany where he was recovering from an August poisoning attack with the Novichok nerve agent.

He blamed the poisoning on Russia's security services and President Vladimir Putin.

Navalny's arrest on arrival at an airport in Moscow sparked massive demonstrations across Russia which saw law enforcement arrest more than 10,000 people and spurred allegations of police abuse.

"The clear lawlessness that I have been subjected to from the moment I stepped off the plane is Putin's revenge on me personally," Navalny wrote.

A court in Moscow imprisoned him Tuesday for two years and eight months at the request of Russia's prison service, which said he had violated the terms of the 2014 suspended sentence for fraud.

"The iron doors slam shut behind me with a deafening clang, but I feel like a free man, because I am confident I am doing the right thing, because I have your support and the support of my family," Navalny said.

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