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5 Feb, 2021 15:31

Alexey Navalny defamation case adjourned for a week – opposition figure being prosecuted for dubbing 94yo WWII veteran 'a traitor'

Alexey Navalny defamation case adjourned for a week – opposition figure being prosecuted for dubbing 94yo WWII veteran 'a traitor'

A court in Moscow hearing a libel trial involving activist Alexey Navalny has been adjourned for one week. He stands accused of defaming a now-94-year-old World War II veteran by calling him a “traitor” and “corrupt lackey.”

Friday's decision came three days after the anti-corruption activist was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison, minus 10 months he had already served under house arrest. In that case, he was found to have broken the terms of a suspended sentence, handed down for an embezzlement conviction in 2014.

The latest trial relates to a Twitter post from June 2020, when Navalny called Ignat Artemenko a “traitor” for appearing in an advertisement, published by RT Russian, asking the public to turn out in the then-upcoming vote on constitutional changes. As well as the veteran, the video included other well-known people from different segments of society.

Also on rt.com Moscow protest leader Navalny could face large fine or compulsory labor after calling elderly WWII veteran a ‘traitor’

In the tweet, Navalny called the video’s ensemble “the shame of the country.”

“Oh, here they are, darlings. I must admit that the team of corrupt lackeys looks rather weak. Look at them: this is the shame of the country. People without a conscience. Traitors,” he wrote.

Following its publication, Navalny was accused of posting “deliberately false information discrediting the honor and dignity” of Artemenko.

The eventful court session started at 10am and lasted until early evening, after a long delay when the veteran began to feel ill and called for medical help. After an ambulance arrived, Artemenko did not return and the court opted to continue without listening to his statement. According to reports, the entire hearing was marred by technical difficulties and a low-quality internet connection to those testifying via video link.

Eventually, prosecutors asked for the adjournment, saying that the working week had come to an end.  

In court, Navalny directed his ire at the veteran’s family, accusing them of “selling” their relative.

“You will burn in hell for taking your 95-year-old grandfather, putting medals on him, and using him.”

Also on rt.com Moscow protest leader Navalny faces community service & large fine if found guilty of libeling elderly WWII veteran

In response to the charges, the opposition figure’s legal team claimed that the original aim of the case was to prevent Navalny from participating in upcoming elections, which are due to take place in September, this year.

The complaint was originally due to be heard in August but was postponed after the opposition figure was flown to Berlin to receive treatment after an alleged poisoning.

Navalny was remanded in custody on January 18, immediately after arriving back in Russia from Germany, where he spent almost five months convalescing after what he claims was a Kremlin-ordered attempt on his life. The accusation has been vehemently denied by Moscow.

On February 2, Navalny was sentenced to three-and-a-half years behind bars, minus 10 months already served, arising from a 2014 embezzlement charge. His supporters believe the case to be politically motivated, and the original decision was condemned by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) as “arbitrary and manifestly unreasonable.”

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