Wednesday, 24 February, 2021


Russian court rejects Alexei Navalny's appeal against jail term

Putin critic Alexei Navalny LOSES appeal against nearly three year jail term Kremlin tells West to pull back from idea of Navalny-related sanctions
Kristine Garrett | 20 February, 2021, 20:30

A Moscow appeal court has upheld a prison sentence imposed on chief Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny after he returned to Russian Federation from Germany last month.

The ruling came hours after another judge rejected the top Kremlin critic's appeal over his prison sentence for violating the terms of his probation.

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.

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.

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.

Navalny had filed an appeal against a three-year prison sentence, but the Moscow City Court's decision to uphold the ruling likely means he will spend 2 1/2 years in a penal colony, after 1 1/2 months was shaved off due to time already served in house arrest.

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 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.

The ruling effectively removes Russia's most influential opposition leader from the political scene ahead of parliamentary elections in the fall.

"Russia should be not only free, but also happy", Navalny said.

"Our country is built on injustice".

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

"To live is to risk it all".

Navalny has also found support from across much of the worldwide community. "Otherwise, you're just an inert chunk of randomly assembled molecules drifting wherever the universe blows you".

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.

Russian Federation has come under increasing Western pressure to release Navalny since he was detained on arrival at a Moscow airport in January. 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 ECHR's demand, describing the ruling as unlawful and "inadmissible" meddling in Russia's affairs.

A law enforcement officer walks with a dog near a court building during a hearing on Alexei Navalny's appeal of his sentence in Moscow on Saturday.

State prosecutors have asked the court to fine Navalny 950,000 roubles ($12,800) for slander. Russian authorities might now use that provision to reject the ECHR's ruling.

Later on Saturday, Navalny also faced proceedings in a separate case on charges of defaming a World War II veteran.

"You'll burn in Hell for all of this", he said.

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