Moscow court rejects opposition leader Navalny's appeal

20 Février, 2021, 15:52 | Auteur: Yves Courtet
  • Kremlin critic Navalny faces decisive verdicts in Moscow legal battle

Navalny, a 44-year-old anti-corruption campaigner who has emerged as President Vladimir Putin's most prominent opponent, was arrested in January when he returned to Russian Federation after months in Germany recovering from a nerve agent poisoning he blames on the Kremlin.

But, with the amount of time he had already spent under house arrest taken into account, it amounted to around two years and eight months.

A Moscow court swiftly rejected Navalny's appeal on Saturday, while shortening his original jail term by six weeks.

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

The ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that was posted on Navalny's website on Wednesday demands that Russian Federation set him free immediately and warns that failing to do so would mark a breach of the European human rights convention.

"To live is to risk it all", he continued.

Mr Navalny also addressed the judge and the prosecutor, arguing they could have a much better life in a new Russian Federation.

"Political life will be rich and multifaceted", Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. "Imagine how great it would be to work as a judge when no one would be able to call you and give you directions what verdicts to issue".

"The whole question is, was I hiding or not hiding?" he told the court. "The entire world knew where I was".

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled", he said, citing a passage from the Bible.

They also want his 2014 sentence turned into real jail time because the alleged defamation took place while he was serving the suspended term.

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Europe's rights court ruled this week that Russian Federation must immediately release Navalny, a motion swiftly brushed aside by the justice ministry.

Russian Federation has rejected Western criticism of Navalny's arrest and the crackdown on demonstrations as meddling in its internal affairs.

Prosecutors in a separate trial have called for the Kremlin critic to be fined the equivalent of $13,000 for calling a World War II veteran a "traitor" on Twitter a year ago, with a verdict also expected Saturday. The Strasbourg-based court noted that Navalny has contested Russian authorities' argument that they had taken sufficient measures to safeguard his life and well-being in custody following the nerve agent attack.

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

In the past, Moscow has abided by the ECHR's rulings awarding compensations to Russian citizens who have contested verdicts in Russian courts, but it never faced a demand by the European court to set a convict free.

In a sign of its long-held annoyance with the Strasbourg court's verdicts, Russian Federation a year ago adopted a constitutional amendment declaring the priority of national legislation over global law.

But he has said his comments were not specifically directed against the veteran, and that the authorities are using the charge to smear his reputation.

Another Moscow court this week rejected Navalny's appeal against a fine of 3.3 million rubles ($44,649/36,825 euros) that he was ordered to pay a catering company in another defamation lawsuit.

Mr Navalny, President Vladimir Putin's most prominent critic, was jailed earlier this month for parole violations that he said were trumped up.

Navalny, who called the 94-year-old veteran and other people featured in a pro-Kremlin video last year as "corrupt stooges", "people without conscience" and "traitors", has rejected the slander charges and described them as part of official efforts to disparage him.

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