On Saturday, a Russian court rejected an appeal by opposition leader, Alexei A. Navalny, making it possible for him to be transferred to Russia’s penal colony system. This is the latest development in the case of Putin’s most outspoken critic.
Russia reportedly recognizes the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights. However, even as the ECHR ruled on Tuesday that Navalny should be immediately released from prison, the Russian court rejected Navalny’s appeal. His lawyer, Olga Mikhailova, petitioned the court to release her client, making the case that his health and life were in danger while detained.
Dmitri S. Peskov, the Kremlin’s spokesman, rejected the ECHR’s ruling and said that it is “a serious attempt to intervene in internal judicial matters of Russia.”
The original sentence was handed down by the court on February 2, as reported by The Daily Wire:
A Moscow court on Tuesday ordered Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny to prison for more than 2 1/2 years on charges that he violated the terms of his probation — while he was in a coma from nerve-agent poisoning he says was perpetrated by the Russian Security Service.
Navalny, 44, was detained two weeks ago after he returned to Moscow from Berlin. In court, a judge ruled Navalny violated his term of five years of probation, ordered a former 3.5-year suspended sentence to be replaced with a prison term, then took off 11 months Navalny already spent under house arrest.
On Saturday, Navalny gave a speech at the hearing in which he referenced the Bible and the “Harry Potter” book series.
According to USA Today, he spoke of the Russian government and Putin, saying, “The government’s task is to scare you and then persuade you that you are alone. …Our Voldemort in his palace also wants me to feel cut off.”
He spoke to the prosecutor and judge, as well, saying, “Just imagine how wonderful life would be without constant lying,” he said. “Imagine how great it would be to work as a judge … when no one would be able to call you and give you directions what verdicts to issue.”
Pushing back against the charge that he violated his probation, he made the point that he was not able to report to authorities as his probation required while he was in Germany recovering from his poisoning. He also reportedly emphasized that as soon as his health was restored and he was able, he returned to Russia immediately.
“I wasn’t hiding,” he said. “The entire world knew where I was.”
USA Today reports:
Navalny said he was an atheist before but has come to believe in God, adding that his faith helped him face his challenges. He said he believed the Bible saying that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are blessed, and that he felt no regret in returning home.
“Even though our country is built on injustice and we all constantly face injustice … we also see that millions of people, tens of millions of people, want righteousness,” Navalny told the court. “They want the righteousness and sooner or later they will have it.”
Hours later on Saturday, according to the BBC, Navalny was “convicted in the same court of slandering a World War Two veteran and fined the equivalent of $11,500 …”
The New York Times reports that it still remains unknown if Navalny will leave his current detainment in a high-security prison in Moscow. He might remain there for the time being because of other pending legal matters.