Russian court clears way for Navalny to be sent to penal colony

The court, however did shorten the activist's sentence by a month and a half

Photo: AP via SkyNews Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny pictured in court on Saturday

A Russian court on Saturday rejected an appeal by Alexei Navalny and upheld the Kremlin critic's prison sentence, in a case that triggered international condemnation and protests across the country.

The Moscow City Court dismissed Navalny's appeal against a lower court's three-and-a-half year prison sentence handed down for violating probation terms related to a 2014 fraud conviction, clearing the way for him to be sent to a penal colony. The actual term, however, is likely to be shorter, because Navalny's lawyers expect he will be credited for time already spent in detention and house arrest.

This means he could be released after two years, six months and two weeks, which would be late July or early August 2023, dpa explained.

Navalny, who was in court for the verdict, took the judge's ruling calmly and even laughed, video from the courtroom showed. His team said they will still try to fight the sentence in the courts.

The European Court of Human Rights earlier this week had ordered Russia to immediately release the 44-year-old opposition figure and anti-corruption campaigner who is President Vladimir Putin's most vocal opponent.

Earlier this month, Navalny was sentenced to prison on charges of violating parole for a fraud conviction. This was despite the fact that he could not report to parole officers because he had to be taken to Germany while comatose after an attack with a nerve agent, then stayed there to recuperate for several months. The attack has widely been blamed on Russian agents.

The case drew severe criticism worldwide and triggered mass protests across Russia.

In a legal marathon on Saturday, Navalny is due to attend another trial that has also been criticised as politically motivated. In the defamation case Navalny is charged with insulting a World War II veteran who appeared in a montage praising a constitutional change that many say boosted Putin's powers. A verdict is expected in the case also today.

Navalny was charged after he tweeted a clip of the video, calling the people who appeared in it "traitors." The veteran in question said he was so offended by Navalny's comments that his health deteriorated, prompting him to press defamation charges. If convicted, Navalny could face fines, compulsory labour or prison.

Prosecutors called for a fine of 950,000 roubles ($12,957), a sentence that would take into account the prison sentence imposed in the other trial, they said.

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