Russian court rejects Navalny's appeal but shortens jail term marginally

Henrietta Strickland
February 20, 2021

A Moscow court on Saturday rejected Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny's appeal against his prison sentence. Russian Federation responded to the order by the Strasbourg, France-based court - of which Moscow is a member- by calling the ruling unlawful.

The judge chose to count six weeks Navalny was under house arrest as part of the time served, meaning he will now be imprisoned for just over two-and-a-half years in a penal colony.

Navalny, 44, was arrested in January after returning home from Germany, where he had been recovering from a near-fatal poisoning that he and Western governments have blamed on the Kremlin.

Navalny charges were for breaking the terms of a suspended sentence in 2014 for embezzlement. Prosecutors have asked the judge to order Navalny to pay a fine of 950,000 rubles (about $13,000). "And sooner or later they'll get it", he said.

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 Moscow City Court's judge on Saturday only slightly reduced his sentence to just over 2 1/2 years in prison, ruling that a month-and-half Navalny spent under house arrest in early 2015 will be deducted from his sentence.

The anti-corruption campaigner appeared in court Saturday inside a glass cage for defendants, wearing a plaid shirt, smiling and flashing the V for victory symbol.

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.

It emphasised that 'the ECHR can't substitute a national court or cancel its verdict'.

Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said on Twitter the court's ruling was at odds with a call by the European Court of Human Rights this week to free Navalny, and could lead to more sanctions against Moscow.

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 global 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.

Mr Navalny's arrest and jailing sparked nationwide street protests in Russian Federation, but his allies say they have now paused major demonstrations until the spring. 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.

His arrest and imprisonment have fueled a huge wave of protests across Russian Federation.

He described the legal process to jail him as "absurd" and called on Russians to take action to make the country a better place. He stands accused of slandering a second world war veteran who praised President Putin, per The Guardian.

He was subsequently jailed for two years and eight months, sparking mass protests in Russian Federation that were met with a brutal police response.

Navalny's allies reacted with anger.

Protests continued for several weeks after Navlany's jailing, but his supporters now say demonstrations have been paused until the Spring. She has now left the country for Germany.

The United States, Britain, Germany and the European Union have urged Moscow to immediately free Navalny and condemned Russia's repression of protests.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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