Alexeï Navalny’s prison sentence for violation of a judicial review was confirmed on Saturday morning. This is the opponent’s first long sentence upheld on appeal in nearly a decade of conflict with the Russian authorities.
The Moscow court, however, slightly reduced the conviction of the 44-year-old anti-corruption activist by a month and a half.
Present at the hearing, the opponent rejected this accusation by saying that he had never wanted to escape the Russian authorities by going to Germany and to have warned them of his return. “I bought a ticket and told everyone I was coming home,” he told the judge, adding: “It’s just absurd.”
Victim of an attempted poisoning in 2020, Alexei Navalny went to a Berlin clinic for treatment.
The prosecutor responded by saying that the opponent had “openly and brazenly” defied the law. The spokeswoman for the Moscow courthouse said the prison services will be free to transfer the opponent to one of Russia’s many labor camps if the February 2 decision is upheld.
Denouncing an “expected” decision, one of Alexei Navalny’s lawyers indicated that his client was going to appeal in cassation. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, for his part, maintained that this sentence would not change the “rich and pluralist” political landscape of Russia ahead of the legislative elections in September.
Targeted by multiple legal proceedings, the main opponent of the Kremlin, also appeared Saturday afternoon before another judge in a trial for “defamation” of a veteran of the Second World War. The prosecution requested a fine of 950,000 rubles in this case (approximately 12,000 francs) and also demanded that the opponent’s suspension be converted into a prison.
Calls for release
Alexeï Navalny, whose imprisonment in January had led to three days of repressed demonstrations, denounces procedures set up from scratch. He has spent previous hearings defying the court. According to him, the Kremlin wants to throw him in prison to silence him, after failing to kill him by poisoning him last summer, which Moscow denies.
The European Union and the United States have stepped up calls to release him. The European Court of Human Rights also asked this week for the activist’s release, arguing a risk to his life. This request was immediately rejected by Moscow.