The Kremlin critic failed in court due to his complaint against the controversial concentration camp ruling. Shortly thereafter, an additional conviction followed for insulting veterans.
Kremlin opponent Alexei Navalny suffered defeats before the Russian judiciary twice in one day. On Saturday noon’s appeal, a Moscow judge confirmed that the controversial concentration camp had been imposed on the opposition politician at the start of February. That evening, Navalny was sentenced to a heavy fine of 850,000 rubles (about 10,300 francs) in the same court for insulting a veteran of World War II. This is nearly twice the average annual salary in Russia.
Accompanied by nationwide protests, Navalny was sentenced to three and a half years in prison in a concentration camp more than two weeks ago. He is said to have violated probation requirements in previous criminal proceedings while recovering from a toxic attack in Germany. However, several months of house arrest and previous prison terms are attributed to him. According to the calculations of his lawyer, he could be released after two years, six months and two weeks – at the end of July or early August 2023. He may already be transferred from a detention center in Moscow to the camp in the coming days. At first it was unclear at which.
Once again, the opposition member described the accusation that he wanted to hide it from the courts as “ridiculous”. He finally returned to Russia voluntarily. “The whole world knows where I am.” His lawyers announced that they want to appeal the court’s decision to a higher court.
The European Union advises to impose more sanctions on Russia
Confirming the verdict, Russia is ignoring the decision of the European Court of Human Rights, which demanded a few days ago for the immediate release of the opposition member. While the court said his decision was binding on Russia, the Kremlin rejected it as an attempt to interfere in internal affairs. The Russian judiciary action is also a nod to Brussels, as European Union foreign ministers want to discuss more potential sanctions against Russia on Monday.
The Kremlin only indirectly commented on the new court ruling against Navalny: When asked what impact it will have, spokesperson Dmitry Peskov praised the Russian political scene as “extremely complex.” He added, “We have sufficient pluralism in the political arena.”
Just two hours after the verdict was confirmed, the next trial continued in the same building. Even the prosecutor was himself, Nawalni’s team quipped on Twitter: “They will soon charge him a personal judge and police officers personally.”
Novichok’s attack was not discussed
It was the fourth day of the trial in an alleged affront to veterans, in which Navalny was allowed to speak the last word – the second on that day. “I often have the last word,” he joked. “If someone decided to publish my last words, it would be a big book.”
The background to this second operation is Navalny’s criticism of a video broadcast on state television last summer. In it, many citizens – including a 94-year-old veteran of World War II – campaigned for a constitutional amendment that also secured the power of President Vladimir Putin. Navalny insulted the heroes on Twitter, calling them “traitors.”
The old man is said to have felt offended by the statements that led to the deterioration of his health. On the one hand, Navalny sees the veteran warrior as a “puppet” in a politically motivated trial and accuses hypocrisy: the court process alone has consumed more money than the old man has gotten in government grants in recent years. Nawalni’s lawyers also announced an appeal against this ruling.
Once again, Navalny on Saturday criticized the fact that everything was possible was discussed in court, except for the attack on him in August. Although several Western laboratories, including one from the German armed forces, unambiguously proved that Novichuk was in his body, Russia does not want to investigate the case. On Saturday, the Russian Attorney General’s office again accused the German side of not adequately responding to the request for legal aid.
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