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Moscow court re­jects Krem­lin critic’s ap­peal

- By Vladimir Isachenkov Vladimir Isachenkov is an As­so­ci­ated Press writer. Corruption · European Politics · Prison · Politics · Moscow · Government of Russia · Alexey Navalny · Harry Potter · Vladimir Putin · Russia · Russian Empire · Germany · European Court of Human Rights · Crime

MOSCOW — A Moscow court on Satur­day re­jected Rus­sian op­po­si­tion leader Alexei Navalny’s ap­peal of his prison sen­tence, even as the coun­try faced a top Euro­pean rights court’s or­der to free the Krem­lin’s most prom­i­nent foe.

A few hours later, a judge in a sep­a­rate case or­dered Navalny to pay a fine for de­fam­ing a World War II veteran.

Dur­ing the first court hear­ing, Navalny urged Rus­sians to stand up to the Krem­lin in a fiery speech, mix­ing ref­er­ences to the Bi­ble and “Harry Pot­ter.”

“The gov­ern­ment’s task is to scare you and then per­suade you that you are alone,” he said. “Our Volde­mort in his palace also wants me to feel cut off,” he added, in a ref­er­ence to Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin.

Navalny also ad­dressed the judge and the pros­e­cu­tor, ar­gu­ing they could have a much bet­ter life in a new Rus­sia.

“Just imag­ine how won­der­ful life would be with­out con­stant ly­ing,” he said. “Imag­ine how great it would be to work as a judge … when no one would be able to call you and give you di­rec­tions what ver­dicts to is­sue.”

A lower court sen­tenced Navalny this month to two years and eight months in prison for vi­o­lat­ing terms of his pro­ba­tion while re­cu­per­at­ing in Ger­many from a nerve agent poi­son­ing that he blames on the Krem­lin. Rus­sian au­thor­i­ties have re­jected the ac­cu­sa­tion.

Navalny, 44, an anti­cor­rup­tion cru­sader and Putin’s most vo­cal op­po­nent, ap­pealed the prison sen­tence and asked to be re­leased. The Moscow City

Court judge on Satur­day only slightly re­duced his sen­tence to just over 2½ years in prison, rul­ing that a month­and­half Navalny spent un­der house ar­rest in early 2015 should be de­ducted from his sen­tence.

The sen­tence stems from a 2014 em­bez­zle­ment con­vic­tion that Navalny has re­jected as fab­ri­cated and the Euro­pean Court of Hu­man Rights has ruled to be un­law­ful.

He in­sisted that he was un­able to re­port to the au­thor­i­ties in line with his pro­ba­tion re­quire­ments while he was con­va­lesc­ing in Ger­many, em­pha­siz­ing that he re­turned to Rus­sia im­me­di­ately af­ter his health al­lowed.

“I wasn’t hid­ing,” he said. “The en­tire world knew where I was.”

Af­ter los­ing his ap­peal, Navalny had a se­cond court hear­ing on charges of slan­der­ing the veteran and was or­dered to pay 850,000 rubles (about $11,500). Navalny re­jected the charges.

His ar­rest has fueled a wave of protests across Rus­sia. Au­thor­i­ties re­sponded with a sweep­ing crack­down, de­tain­ing 11,000 peo­ple, many of whom were fined or given jail terms.

 ?? Alexan­der Zemlianich­enko / As­so­ci­ated Press ?? Rus­sian op­po­si­tion leader Alexei Navalny stands in a cell dur­ing a court hear­ing in Moscow. Navalny’s ar­rest and im­pris­on­ment have fueled a huge wave of protests across Rus­sia.
Alexan­der Zemlianich­enko / As­so­ci­ated Press Rus­sian op­po­si­tion leader Alexei Navalny stands in a cell dur­ing a court hear­ing in Moscow. Navalny’s ar­rest and im­pris­on­ment have fueled a huge wave of protests across Rus­sia.

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