Russia has ordered diplomats from Germany, Poland, and Sweden who it claimed took part in the nationwide Navalny protests to leave the country “shortly” after declaring them “persona non grata.” The Kremlin’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Friday that the foreign officials had taken part in demonstrations calling for the government to release opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was arrested upon his return to Russia after a poisoning attempt allegedly ordered by President Vladimir Putin last summer.
Tens of thousands of people across Russia protested Navalny’s arrest on Jan. 23. Navalny has since been sentenced to two years and eight months in prison on charges that were condemned as dubious by international observers. The opposition leader was in court once again Friday and pleaded not guilty to charges of defaming a Russian World War II veteran who was featured in a video supporting the Kremlin. Navalny referred to people in the video as “corrupt stooges” and “traitors.”