Alexei Navalny’s appeal rejected by Moscow court

Modesto Morganelli
Febbraio 20, 2021

A Moscow court was hearing Navalny's appeal against a decision this month to imprison him for almost three years for violating the terms of a suspended sentence on embezzlement charges. The Moscow City Court's judge on Saturday only slightly reduced his sentence to just over 2½ years in prison, ruling that a month and half Navalny spent under house arrest in early 2015 will be deducted from his sentence.

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

The sentence stems from a 2014 embezzlement conviction that Navalny has rejected as fabricated and the European Сourt of Human Rights has ruled to be unlawful.

Navalny, 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.

Navalny's arrest and imprisonment have fuelled a huge wave of protests across Russian Federation.

A series of theatrical hearings in the case ended Tuesday with Navalny asking if the judge could recommend a recipe for pickles, since it is "pointless to talk about the law" with her. Authorities responded with a sweeping crackdown, detaining about 11,000 people, many of whom were fined or given jail terms ranging from seven to 15 days.

During the first court hearing, Navalny urged Russians to stand up to the Kremlin in a fiery speech mixing references to the Bible and "Harry Potter".

"Imagine how great it would be to work as a judge when no-one would be able to call you and give you directions on what verdicts to issue".

"I wasn't hiding", he said.

"I don't want to show off a lot, but the whole world knew where I was", Navalny said.

Navalny said he was an atheist before but has come to believe in God, adding that his faith helped him face his challenges. "And sooner or later they'll get it", he said.

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

Mr Navalny said he had no regrets about returning to Russian Federation, that his belief in God helped sustain him, and that "strength was in truth".

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 worldwide 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.

In the slander case, Mr Navalny has been accused of defaming a World War II veteran who took part in a promotional video backing constitutional reforms past year that let Mr Putin run for two more terms in the Kremlin after 2024 if he wants.

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. He rejected the slander charges, describing them as part of official efforts to disparage him.

European Union member Lithuania's foreign ministry said Friday that a group of European Union foreign ministers will meet with two top Navalny aides in Brussels on Sunday.

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