Moscow court rejects opposition leader Navalny's appeal

Moscow court rejects Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny's appeal against his prison sentence

Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny lost his appeal on Saturday against what he said was a politically motivated decision to jail him for almost three years, but said his faith in God and belief in the rightness of his cause was sustaining him.

Navalny, 44, was jailed on February 2 for alleged parole violations that critics say were politically motivated charges.

Several Western countries have condemned the case and are discussing possible sanctions on Russian Federation.

A Moscow court on Saturday convicted top Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny for defamation, just hours after another court upheld an order for him to serve more than two years in prison in another case.

The original sentence was three-and-a-half years. This court decision was rejected by officials in Moscow.

Mr Navalny reportedly responded sarcastically to the ruling. Тhe court on Saturday reduced that sentence by two months.

Mikhail Yemelyanov, a deputy head of the legal affairs committee in the Kremlin-controlled lower house of parliament, pointed at the constitutional change, noting that it gives Russian Federation the right to ignore the ECHR's ruling, according to the Interfax news agency.

Police subsequently rounded up Navalny's allies including wife Yulia, who was arrested at a rally before being released.

Mr Navalny, 44, was arrested on 17 January as he returned to Russia from Germany, where he had spent five months recovering from a nerve-agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin - an allegation denied by Russian authorities.

He said he had been unable to report to the Moscow prison service past year because he had been convalescing in Germany at the time.

"The entire world knew where I was".

Navalny's case has galvanized the opposition movement in Russian Federation, sparking waves of protest in cities and towns across the country in January.

"Our country is built on injustice", he said. But tens of millions of people want the truth. "And sooner or later they'll get it".

The opposition politician had earlier told the judge he was not guilty of parole violations as a previous court had found.

The former lawyer faces another trial on Saturday, this time for slander.

Mr Navalny described the people in the video as traitors and corrupt lackeys. Russian authorities might now use that provision to reject the ECHR's ruling.

State prosecutors have asked the court to fine Navalny 950,000 roubles ($16,300) for slander.

A series of theatrical hearings in the case ended Tuesday with Navalny asking if the judge could recommend a recipe for pickles, since it is "pointless to talk about the law" with her.

The court is expected to announce its decision at 1500 GMT.

Russian Federation opposition leader Alexei Navalny was arrested in January when he returned to Russian Federation.

Russian Federation has come under increasing Western pressure to release Navalny since he was detained on arrival at a Moscow airport in January.

"We have seen the rejection of a mass (street protest) movement and a transition to candle-lit gatherings, and now absolutely nothing", he said on Ekho Moskvy radio station.

The 94-year-old veteran at the centre of the separate defamation case appeared in a video that was derided by Navalny for promoting constitutional reforms that passed last year and could allow President Putin to stay in power until 2036.

Mr Putin has dismissed that, alleging Mr Navalny is part of a US-backed campaign to discredit him.



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