Moscow Court Convicts Kremlin Critic Alexei Navalny In Defamation Case

20 Février, 2021, 18:35 | Auteur: Yves Courtet
  • City Court Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny talks to one of his lawyers left while standing in the cage during a hearing to a motion from the Russian prison service to convert the suspended sentence of Na

A Moscow appeals court on Saturday rejected opposition leader Alexei Navalny's demand to be released from custody, ensuring Russian President Vladimir Putin's staunchest critic remains behind bars.

The judge made a decision to count six weeks Navalny was under house arrest as part of the time served, meaning he will now be imprisoned for just over two-and-a-half years in a penal colony.

On February 16, the European court of human rights (ECHR) ruled that Russian Federation risked breaching the European Convention on Human Rights if it did not release Navalny immediately, according to Bloomberg. "The main thing I want to say is don't be afraid", he said, in a speech that cited the Bible, the Harry Potter series and sci-fi cartoon series Rick and Morty.

Navalny was given the almost three-year sentence on February 2 for breaching parole terms of an embezzlement conviction while in Germany recovering from a poisoning attack that very almost killed him.

His arrest and imprisonment have fueled a huge wave of protests across Russian Federation.

"The government's task is to scare you and then persuade you that you are alone", Navalny said.

"Our Voldemort in his palace also wants me to feel cut off", he added, in a reference to Mr Putin. "Otherwise, you're just an inert chunk of randomly assembled molecules drifting wherever the universe blows you".

Navalny also addressed the judge and the prosecutor, arguing that they could have a much better life in a new Russian Federation. "The entire world knew where I was". "And sooner or later they'll get it", he said.

Asked about the impact of Navalny's prison sentence on Russia's politics, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that the country's "rich and multifaceted" political scene will develop regardless of the verdict.

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Europe's rights court ruled this week that Russian Federation must immediately release Navalny, in a motion swiftly brushed off by the Kremlin.

A judge is expected Saturday to decide whether to fine Navalny the equivalent of $13,000 for calling a World War II veteran a "traitor" on Twitter a year ago.

The Russian government has rebuffed the ECHR's demand, describing the ruling as unlawful and "inadmissible" meddling in Russia's affairs.

Navalny's allies believe Russia's non-compliance with the ruling could lead to its expulsion from the Council of Europe and exacerbate a crisis in Moscow's ties with Europe that began with the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said on Twitter the court's ruling was at odds with a call by the European Court of Human Rights this week to free Navalny, and could lead to more sanctions against Moscow.

Putin, who makes a point of never uttering Navalny's name, has said Russian state security agents would have "finished the job" if they had wanted to kill Navalny who he suggested was not important enough to eliminate.

In a reflection of its simmering irritation with the European court's verdicts, Russian Federation a year ago adopted a constitutional amendment declaring the priority of national legislation over worldwide law.

Later on Saturday, Navalny will also face proceedings in a separate case on charges of defaming a Second World War veteran. Russian authorities might now use that provision to reject the ECHR's ruling.

Prosecutors have called for Navalny to be fined the equivalent of £9,275 ($13,000) in that case.

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