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Moscow Court To Consider Navalny’s Appeal Of Prison Term, Defamation Case On Same Day

A hearing on Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny’s appeal of his sentence for violating terms of his probation while recuperating from a nerve agent poisoning in Germany is scheduled to take place in a Moscow court on February 20.

After the hearing on the appeal of his sentence, scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. Prague time, Navanly will face court proceedings in a separate case on charges of defaming a World War II veteran.

Navalny, 44, an anti-corruption investigator and President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent critic, was arrested last month upon returning from Germany and found guilty of guilty of violating the terms of his parole related to an embezzlement case that Navalny has called politically motivated.

Navalny’s detention triggered international condemnation and protests across Russia on January 23 and January 31 during which more than 10,000 people were rounded up by police.

RUSSIA — Riot police block an area protecting against demonstrators during a protest against the jailing of opposition leader Alexei Navalny in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021

A Moscow court on February 2 converted the sentence to three and a half years in prison. Given credit for time already spent in detention, the sentence was set at two years and eight months, which Navalny will have to serve behind bars unless the ruling is changed on appeal.

Navalny was in Germany recovering from the poisoning, which he and supporters say was ordered by Putin. The Kremlin has denied any role in the poisoning.

The Strasbourg-based ECHR on February 16 called for the “immediate” release of Navalny, and demand rejected by the Kremlin as “unlawful” and “inadmissible” meddling in Russia’s affairs.

Moscow has remained defiant about Western criticism over its jailing of the opposition politician and the crackdown on his supporters, calling it foreign interference in its internal affairs.

In the defamation case prosecutors demanded on February 16 that Navalny be fined 950,000 rubles ($13,000).

The judge in Moscow’s Babushkinsky district court did not immediately rule on the prosecutors’ demand and adjourned the trial until February 20.

Officials accuse Navalny of defaming a war veteran who took part in a Kremlin-organized promotional video. Navalny mocked the people in the video, calling them “corrupt lackeys and traitors.” Navalny’s allies have called the trial a politically motivated sham and Navalny has accused Russian officials of “fabricating” the case against him.

World War II veterans are revered by most Russians and criticism of them is generally regarded as socially unacceptable.

With reporting by RFE/RL’s Russian Service

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