Moscow court upholds jailed Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny’s defamation conviction for branding WWII veteran a ‘traitor’
Natalya Kurysheva, the jurist presiding over the case at the Babushkinsky District Court of Moscow, rejected the challenge and upheld the previous verdict, handed out in February. Navalny had been ordered to pay 850,000 rubles ($11,440) for calling Ignat Artemenko, a Belarusian-born former soldier who fought the Nazis as a partisan, a “traitor.”
Last year, Artemenko appeared in an RT video that encouraged Russians to participate in last summer’s vote on constitutional reforms. In a tweet, Navalny said of those who appeared in the clip, “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.”Also on rt.com Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny handed $11,500 fine after being found guilty of defaming elderly WWII veteran in tweet
At the initial hearing in February, the activist blasted the proceedings, which he said amounted to “a show trial.” He also took the stand to declare that those involved in the case would “burn in hell.”
As part of his appeal on Thursday, Navalny claimed that a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights, which called for his release from prison, should be taken into account. However, prosecutors pointed out that the decision, which the Russian government says has no bearing on domestic law, related only to a previous conviction for fraud, and not the libel case.
The activist also used his latest appearance before a judge and the media to criticize President Vladimir Putin.
Navalny is currently serving time behind bars for breaching the terms of a suspended sentence handed to him for involvement in a fraud scheme concerning French cosmetics firm Yves Rocher. His conditional release was revoked earlier this year, and he was remanded to a prison colony in the Vladimir Region, outside Moscow.
Last week, the campaigner declared he would end a hunger strike that he announced he had begun three weeks earlier over demands to see a doctor of his choice for leg and spine pain. In Russia, as in many other countries, inmates are not usually able to pick their own physicians. A series of protests in cities across Russia saw thousands take to the streets in his support. However, Navalny later revealed that he had been seen by private doctors before the demonstration began.
Earlier on Thursday, it was reported that Russia’s Investigative Committee had opened a new case against Navalny and a number of his allies, including prominent spokesman Leonid Volkov, for operating an illegal organization. His supporters say the charges are linked to an ongoing hearing that could see Navalny’s campaigning group, the Anti-Corruption Fund (FBK) – already registered as a ‘foreign agent’ by the country’s Ministry of Justice – labelled an ‘extremist organization’ and banned altogether.
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