The Russian government critic Alexej Navalny has to serve several years in prison in a prison camp. His lawyers failed in a Moscow court on Saturday in an attempt to overturn a sentence passed earlier this month. According to lawyers, Navalny will probably have to serve around two and a half years of the original three and a half years in prison. Just hours after the verdict, Navalny was sentenced to a heavy fine on another matter.
For allegedly insulting a World War II veteran, the Moscow court fined the opposition politician on Saturday in the amount of 850,000 rubles (around 9,400 euros). That’s roughly twice the average annual salary in Russia. The trial took place in the same courthouse as the morning appeal. Even the prosecutor was the same, wrote Nawalny’s team – half amused, half indignant – on Twitter. “ The y’ll soon assign him a personal judge and personal police officer.”
Veteran had campaigned for constitutional reform
The background to the process is Navalny’s criticism of a video that was 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 protagonists on Twitter as “traitors”. The old man is said to have felt so offended by the statements that his health deteriorated. Navalny, on the other hand, describes the veteran as a “puppet” in a politically motivated process. As proof that the old man is not a traitor, the judge referred on Saturday afternoon in her almost hour-long verdict to the Ministry of the Interior, which lists him neither as a traitor nor a spy.
In the morning, the court had confirmed a sentence of three and a half years in a prison camp. Navalny is accused of violating probation requirements in previous criminal proceedings while recovering from a life-threatening attack with the neurotoxin Novitschok in Germany. Navalny, the most prominent critic of President Vladimir Putin, once again called the accusation that he wanted to hide from the judiciary “absurd” on Saturday.
As for the verdict, Navalny commented in the courtroom: “I have the last word so often. Now this process is coming to an end – and the next one will come. And there I will also have the last word. In case someone should decide to publish my last words , a big book will come out of it. “
Relocation should be imminent
The 44-year-old is currently in a detention center in the Russian capital. However, it may be relocated next week. The actual time in the penal camp has not yet been determined exactly. Nawalny’s lawyers believe that several months of house arrest and previous prison terms will count towards him. Accordingly, he could be released after two years, six months and two weeks – in late July or early August 2023.
The judgment had also provoked severe criticism internationally. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) 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. In the meantime, the human rights organization Amnesty International wants to hand over a petition to the Kremlin to release Navalny. For this purpose, almost 200,000 signatures have been collected in several countries around the world, it said.
(WHAT / dpa)