Moscow court rejects opposition leader Navalny's appeal

Moscow court rejects opposition leader Navalny's appeal

Putin critic Alexei Navalny has lost his appeal against a almost three-year jail term after a Moscow judge defied calls from Europe's top human right's court to free him.

Navalny has asked the Moscow City Court to overturn the sentence and set him free.

"To change the ruling of Moscow's Simonovsky District Court: under article 72 of the Russian Criminal Code, the time Navalny spent under house arrest from 30 December 2014, to 17 February 2015, should be counted as part of the prison term, with one day under house arrest counted as one day of imprisonment".

Mr Navalny, a 44-year-old anti-corruption campaigner who has emerged as President Vladimir Putin's most prominent opponent, was arrested in January when he returned to Russian Federation after months in Germany recovering from a nerve agent poisoning he blames on the Kremlin.

The judge made a decision to count six weeks Navalny was under house arrest as part of the time served, meaning he will now be imprisoned for just over two-and-a-half years in a penal colony.

That ruling stemmed from a suspended sentence he was given in 2014 for embezzlement, a ruling the European Court of Human Rights deemed arbitrary.

In a closing address that often broke from his usual sarcastic tone, Navalny referenced the Bible and said he had no doubts about his decision to return to Russian Federation.

Putin, who makes a point of never uttering Navalny's name, has said Russian state security agents would have "finished the job" if they had wanted to kill Navalny who he suggested was not important enough to eliminate.

Speaking before the verdict, Navalny referenced the Bible as well as Harry Potter and the animated sitcom Rick and Morty as he urged Russians to resist pressure from the authorities and challenge the Kremlin to build a fairer and more prosperous country.

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Almost 550 people have been detained since the coup, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners . Opponents of the coup are sceptical of the army's promise to hold a new election and hand power to the victor .

He was due in court again later Saturday in a another trial where he is accused of defamation for calling a World War II veteran a "traitor" after he appeared in a pro-Kremlin video.

Navalny has also found support from across much of the worldwide community. "Our Voldemort in his palace also wants me to feel cut off". "Otherwise, you're just an inert chunk of randomly assembled molecules drifting wherever the universe blows you".

Europe's rights court ruled this week that Russian Federation must immediately release Navalny, in a motion swiftly brushed off by the Kremlin.

"Just imagine how wonderful life would be without constant lying", he said.

The court noted that Navalny has contested Russian authorities' argument that they had taken sufficient measures to safeguard his life and well-being in custody following the nerve agent attack.

In the slander case, Mr Navalny has been accused of defaming a World War II veteran who took part in a promotional video backing constitutional reforms past year that let Mr Putin run for two more terms in the Kremlin after 2024 if he wants.

The Russian government has rebuffed the Strasbourg-based court's demand, describing the ruling as unlawful and "inadmissible" meddling in Russia's affairs.

The opposition activist faces a fine of 950,000 rubles ($13,000) in a separate case later on Saturday. Russian authorities might now use that provision to reject the ECHR's ruling.

Navalny had suggested the veteran, who participated in the hearing remotely, was mentally unable to follow the proceedings.

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