Alexei Navalny Ally Convicted of Trespassing After Ringing Doorbell of Alleged Russian Operative's Relative

An ally of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was convicted Thursday of trespassing at the apartment of an alleged Russian operative's relative, despite maintaining that she merely rang the doorbell.

Lyubov Sobol was found guilty of forcibly trespassing at an apartment of a relative of Konstantin Kudryavtsev, a Russian security operative who inadvertently released details of Navalny's nerve-agent poisoning during a recorded phone call last year.

In December, Sobol went to the apartment complex where Kudryavtsev reportedly lived and said she merely rang the doorbell in an attempt to reach him. Sobol was arrested at that time for allegedly trespassing, a charge she said was trumped up by Russian authorities out of "revenge," the Associated Press reported.

On Thursday, a Moscow court found her guilty of forcibly entering the apartment and sentenced her to one year of community service.

Sobol called the Thursday verdict a "shame and disgrace" and vowed to appeal, according to the AP. "In the meantime, a [criminal] case into the attempt upon Navalny's life hasn't been even opened," she tweeted.

Dimitar DILKOFF
Russian opposition figure Lyubov Sobol walks away from a Moscow court building after being handed a one-year community service suspended sentence on April 15 Getty Images

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Navalny, Russian President Vladimir Putin's fiercest critic, fell sick during an August 20 flight in Russia and was flown to Berlin while still in a coma for treatment two days later. Labs in Germany, France and Sweden, and tests by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, established that he was exposed to a Soviet-era Novichok nerve agent.

The 44-year-old politician has blamed the poisoning on the Kremlin, accusations Russian officials have rejected.

In December, while still convalescing in Germany, Navalny released a recording of a phone call he said he made to a man he identified as Kudryavtsev and described as an alleged member of a group of officers of the Federal Security Service, or FSB, who purportedly poisoned him with Novichok and then tried to cover it up.

In the call, Navalny introduced himself as a security official and beguiled his interlocutor into sharing details of the alleged poisoning operation and acknowledging that he was involved in the "processing" of Navalny's underwear so "there wouldn't be any traces" of poison.

After the recording was released, Sobol showed up at the residential building in Moscow where Kudryavtsev supposedly lived.

Sobol addressed the court on Wednesday and said the case against her was "completely deceitful" and designed to prevent her from asking Kudryavtsev questions.

Sobol is currently awaiting another trial—she and other top associates of Navalny were accused of violating coronavirus regulations during protests that followed Navalny's jailing in January. Navalny was arrested upon returning from Germany, triggering mass nationwide protests that posed a major challenge to the Kremlin.

The opposition leader is currently serving a two and a half year prison sentence for a 2014 embezzlement conviction he said was fabricated and the European Сourt of Human Rights declared "arbitrary and manifestly unreasonable." For more than two weeks, Navalny has been on a hunger strike over prison officials' refusal to allow a visit from his doctor after he developed severe back and leg pain.