Updated February 20, 2021, 8:40 a.m.
- Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has to attend several court appointments on Saturday.
- A lot is at stake for the opposition because he faces several years in a prison camp.
- But the chances of Navalny’s appointment are slim.
A good month after his return to Russia, Kremlin opponent Alexei Navalny is on trial several times this Saturday. Only a few hours apart, there are two different proceedings against the opposition.
In the morning, the judiciary will first decide on a complaint by Nawalny against the prison camp verdict recently imposed on him. The n it will be decided whether the 44-year-old will remain in custody for the next few years, which is expected in the Russian capital.
In the afternoon, a trial for allegedly insulting a World War II veteran will continue in the same courthouse in northeast Moscow – a verdict could also be reached here. The public prosecutor’s office had requested a fine of 950,000 rubles (10,675 euros). That is more than double the average annual salary in Russia.
Navalny denies the allegations to have insulted a 94-year-old participant in the Second World War. He sees the proceedings against him as politically motivated to portray him publicly as a criminal and to silence him. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said veterans should not be insulted.
Navalny had described protagonists of a propaganda video on the controversial constitutional amendment last summer as “traitors”. The veteran also appeared in it. Navalny invokes the right to freedom of expression.
International outrage over politically motivated judgment
On the fourth day of the trial, he should again have the opportunity to comment on the allegations. Most recently, he had used his appearances in court to criticize the Russian judiciary and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The prosecutor wants to hold him accountable.
Nawalny’s team criticized this procedure as politically motivated, as did the sentence of three and a half years in prison that was imposed at the beginning of the month. However, several months of house arrest and imprisonment are credited to him, so that his lawyers assume two years and eight months.
Navalny allegedly violated probation conditions in a previous criminal case while he was recovering from an attack with the neurotoxin Novitschok in Germany.
EU believes in Russian poison attack on Navalny
Navalny has been in custody for almost a month. That triggered mass protests in Russia. More than 11,000 people were arrested. Nawalny’s team recently announced that the protests would continue in the spring and summer. It was not ruled out that there might be spontaneous actions this Saturday.
According to studies by several laboratories, he was poisoned with the warfare agent Novichok. Russia, on the other hand, has so far seen no evidence of poisoning and therefore no reason for an investigation.
Last year, the EU had already imposed entry and property bans on those suspected of being responsible for those around President Putin. In Brussels, it is assumed that government agencies in Russia are behind the attack.
The EU foreign ministers want to discuss possible further punitive measures this Monday. Kremlin spokesman Peskow said on Friday, according to the Tass state agency: “We hope that common sense will prevail among our dialogue partners.” The pressure of sanctions has proven to be ineffective. (dpa / thp)