The court sentenced Alexei Navalny to a heavy fine

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Two weeks ago, a suspended sentence against the Kremlin critic Navalny was converted into a prison sentence. Now a court rejected the appeal against the judgment and only shortly afterwards convicted Navalny of insult.

The Kremlin opponent Alexei Navalny has to pay a heavy fine in addition to his several years imprisonment in the prison camp. That was the verdict of a Moscow court only hours after its lawyers failed on Saturday to overturn a judgment passed earlier in the month. The judge said he did not allow the complaint.

The second verdict on a fine of 850,000 rubles (around 9,400 euros) was imposed by the court because Navalny allegedly insulted a veteran of the Second World War. This means that he has to pay about twice the average annual salary in Russia. Navalny had sharply criticized a video broadcast in the Russian state media last summer. In it, several citizens – including a now 94-year-old veteran of World War II – campaign for a constitutional amendment that also served to secure President Vladimir Putin’s power. Navalny insulted the people in the clip on Twitter as “traitors”.

As proof that the old man is not a traitor, the judge referred in her almost hour-long verdict to the Interior Ministry, which lists him neither as a traitor nor a spy. Navalny had repeatedly defended his right to freedom of expression and stressed that he had criticized the man as the protagonist in the video and not because of his veteran status. He describes the 94-year-old as a “puppet” in a politically motivated process.

In the morning, the court had already confirmed a sentence of three and a half years in a prison camp. You can read more about the prison camp here. The actual term of imprisonment should be shorter, however, because Nawalny’s lawyers assume that several months of house arrest and earlier imprisonment periods will be credited to him. His team had criticized the process as politically motivated.

International criticism of prison camp judgment

Navalny took the judge’s verdict calmly. Video footage showed him laughing. He is charged with violating probation conditions in previous criminal proceedings while he was recovering from an attack with the neurotoxin Novitschok in Germany. The ruling had also caused severe criticism internationally.

Navalny once again described the accusation that he wanted to hide from the judiciary as “absurd” on Saturday. He returned to Russia voluntarily at the end of January. “The whole world knew where I was.” Navalny was arrested at the airport on his return to Moscow and has been behind bars ever since. According to a report by the state news agency Novosti, he could be taken to a prison camp next week. An exact day was initially not mentioned.

Human Rights Court calls for release

The European Court of Human Rights only asked Russia on Wednesday to release Navalny immediately from custody. The 2017 Human Rights Court ruled the judgment in this earlier trial as manifestly inappropriate. Moscow rejected the request as interference in internal affairs.

Meanwhile, the human rights organization Amnesty International wants to hand over a petition to the Kremlin to release Navalny. In addition, almost 200,000 signatures have been collected in several countries around the world, it said. Navalny is being persecuted for peaceful political activities in the fight against corruption and for enforcing his right to freedom of expression.

The two negotiations took place in the same courthouse, even the prosecutor was the same, wrote Nawalny’s team – half amused, half indignant – on Twitter. “Soon they’ll assign him a personal judge and personal policeman.”

The opposition leader collapsed on August 20 while on a domestic flight. He was first taken to a hospital in Siberia. Two days later he was flown to Berlin for treatment. According to studies by several laboratories, he was poisoned with the warfare agent Novichok. Russia, however, sees no evidence of poisoning and therefore no reason for an investigation.

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