Alexej Navalny starts a new trial with a judge

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Alexei Navalny is on trial again. It’s about the alleged insult to a war veteran. The Kremlin critic is also combative on the second day of the trial.

The Russian opposition politician Alexej Navalny, who was recently sentenced to several years in a prison camp, showed himself belligerent in another court hearing. “I was wondering why you were chosen for the trial,” Navalny said to the judge on the second day of the trial for the alleged insult to a World War II veteran. The Kremlin critic continued to sneer on Friday that she was awarded the contract because she was “the most unscrupulous judge in the world”.

He recommended her further training to deal with Russian law. Navalny said, “Stop embarrassing yourself and take some courses to improve your knowledge of the laws of the Russian Federation.”

Navalny faces a fine or forced labor in the current trial, which opened last week. The background to this is the politician’s criticism of a video broadcast in the state media last summer. In it, several citizens – including the aforementioned veteran – campaign for a constitutional amendment that also served to secure the power of President Vladimir Putin. “Take a look at them: They are the shame of the country,” wrote Navalny on Twitter about the people in the clip, calling them “traitors”.

A 94-year-old who fought in World War II is said to have felt so offended by Nawalny’s statements that his health deteriorated. That is the version of the prosecution. Nawalny’s version, however, reads: The veteran is a “puppet” in a politically motivated process. The Kremlin opponent argued that the old man was hardly able to mentally follow the judge’s questions on the first day of the trial when he was connected to the video. On this second day of the trial, the veteran no longer appeared himself at all.

Instead, the prosecutor read his biography for around 20 minutes and highlighted his meritorious achievements as a hero of World War II, known in Russia as the Great Patriotic War. That had absolutely nothing to do with the case, complained Navalny. In his usual humorous way he tried again and again to present the dish with jokes. He also invoked the right to freedom of expression.

Several witnesses summoned on Friday all testified against Navalny. A witness requested to Nawalny’s defense, however, was initially not allowed into the room. The opposition politician criticized the fact that the elderly gentlemen were deliberately left waiting on the street for a long time at minus 15 degrees and snowstorms. “Do you have a conscience? Have respect for those involved in the process,” he appealed to the judge. She warned him several times because he interfered with the negotiation with heckling and forbade him to ask questions.

In a trial that was heavily criticized internationally, Navalny was sentenced to three and a half years in a prison camp last week. He is said to have violated probation requirements in previous criminal proceedings while he was recovering from a poison attack in Germany in the summer. Taking into account his several months of house arrest and imprisonment, his lawyers estimate that he will have to spend two years and eight months in the penal colony.

New protests planned for Sunday

Meanwhile, Navalny’s supporters are already planning the next protest action for Sunday: People across Russia are supposed to gather in front of their houses on Valentine’s Day and hold up flashlights – as a sign of solidarity with Navalny and his wife Julia. Such a decentralized and peaceful action should make it harder for the police to take action against the activists. Most recently, more than 11,000 people were arrested during mass protests across Russia for Navalny’s release.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov recently stated, referring to the flashlight campaign, that there was no interest in a “cat and mouse game”, but that legal violations would of course be dealt with. On Thursday evening, Navalny’s supporters in Moscow reported a raid on their offices and suspected a connection with the planned action.

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