Is Alexei Navalny Russia’s “Nelson Mandela?”

That was the question posed today by the BBC with Moscow correspondent Daniel Sandford saying that, “The decision to free Alexei Navalny after just one night in prison is – on the face of it – baffling. If this was a political prosecution to remove an opponent from the field of play, then why free him straight afterwards?”

“The answer plumbs the depths of speculation and old-fashioned Kremlinology. Perhaps the most convincing explanation is that Russia’s men of power want to do three things – discredit Alexei Navalny, show his lack of support, and then get him out of the way.”

“This they would achieve by first convicting him of a corruption offence, second, freeing him to fight an election and lose, and third, jailing him again. But this remains speculation.”

Meanwhile we’ll bring you photo journal coverage of yesterday’s Moscow protests by photo journalists Dmitry Cheremisov and Maria Perfilnova. First, from Dmitry Cheremisov:

Navalny sentence reaction b Dmitry Cheremisov

Navalny sentence reaction d Dmitry Cheremisov

Navalny sentence reaction f Dmitry Cheremisov

Navalny sentence reaction g Dmitry Cheremisov

Next, from Maria Perfileva:

Navalny sentence reaction Marina Perfileva l

Navalny sentence reaction Marina Perfileva j

Navalny sentence reaction Marina Perfileva a

Navalny sentence reaction Marina Perfileva d

Navalny sentence reaction Marina Perfileva e

Navalny sentence reaction Marina Perfileva f

Navalny sentence reaction Marina Perfileva g

Navalny sentence reaction Marina Perfileva h

Navalny sentence reaction Marina Perfileva i

Navalny sentence reaction Marina Perfileva k

Navalny sentence reaction Marina Perfileva m

Navalny sentence reaction Marina Perfileva n

Next we’ll look at the reaction from the Russian press to the Navalny sentence and the Kremlin response to citizen protests.

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