Moscow Court Upholds Prison Term for Kremlin Critic Navalny

Rodiano Bonacci
Febbraio 20, 2021

Navalny's arrest and jailing sparked nationwide street protests in Russian Federation, but his allies - most of whom are either under house arrest or overseas - have now declared a moratorium on major demonstrations until the spring.

Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has lost an appeal against what he says was a politically motivated decision to jail him for almost three years, but his prison term has been slightly shortened.

State media has used the case to depict Navalny as a traitor, while Navalny himself has used his court appearances to trash the Russian authorities and legal system.

The verdict was still being read and a sentence not yet imposed, an AFP journalist in the courtroom said.

Navalny was ordered on February 2 to serve the time in a penal colony for breaching his parole terms while he was in Germany recovering from a nerve agent poisoning he blames on the Kremlin.

State prosecutors have asked the court to fine Navalny 950,000 roubles ($12,800) for slander.

Navalny was accused of defaming a World War II veteran who appeared in a video previous year advocating removing presidential term limits, which would allow Putin to stay in power beyond 2024.

The verdict came even as the country faces a top European rights court's order to free Navalny.

Mr Navalny had asked Moscow City Court to overturn the sentence and set him free.

Earlier this month, he was sentenced to two years and eight months in prison for violating terms of his probation while recuperating in Germany.

Navalny's case has galvanized the opposition movement in Russian Federation, sparking waves of protest in cities and towns across the country in January.

The 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.

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

Addressing the prospect of new sanctions, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Friday said he hoped a "common sense approach to the situation will prevail", adding that sanctions had "more than once proved their ineffectiveness". The Russian government responded to the demonstrations with a mass show of force, detaining an estimated 11,000 people over the course of back-to-back weekends.

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

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.

"Once I'd recovered, I bought a plane ticket and came home".

Mr Navalny accuses Mr Putin of ordering his attempted murder.

He was subsequently jailed for two years and eight months, sparking mass protests in Russian Federation that were met with a brutal police response. Police used force to break up the protests and detained more than 2,500 people.

Navalny's allies reacted with anger. She has now left the country for Germany.

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

His arrest, for charges he claims are fabricated, has sparked mass protests across Russian Federation and escalated tensions with Western governments, seeing condemnation from the European Union and US, The Guardian reported.

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