Moscow court rejects Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny's appeal against prison sentence

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Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny told a court that "millions of people want the truth - and sooner or later they'll get it" as he lost an appeal against what he has described as a politically motivated prison sentence.

Navalny was given the almost three-year sentence on February 2 for breaching parole terms of an embezzlement conviction while in Germany recovering from a poisoning attack that very almost killed him.

Judge Dmitry Balashov rejected Navalny's appeal of the February 2 ruling, which had turned a 2014 suspended sentence on embezzlement charges into real jail time.

Navalny, a 44-year-old anti-corruption campaigner who has emerged as President Vladimir Putin's most prominent opponent, was arrested in January when he returned to Russian Federation after months in Germany recovering from a nerve agent poisoning he blames on the Kremlin.

The judge chose to count six weeks Navalny was under house arrest as part of the time served, meaning he will now be imprisoned for just over two-and-a-half years in a penal colony.

Europe's rights court ruled this week that Russian Federation must immediately release Navalny, a motion swiftly brushed aside by the justice ministry. Authorities responded with a sweeping crackdown, detaining about 11,000 people, many of whom were fined or given jail terms ranging from seven to 15 days.

After recovering from his poisoning in Germany, Navalny returned to Russian Federation only to be arrested and imprisoned in Moscow.

Europe's top human rights court ordered Russian Federation to release Navalny after ruling that his life is at risk on Tuesday.

Speaking before the verdict, Navalny referenced the Bible as well as Harry Potter and the animated sitcom Rick and Morty as he urged Russians to resist pressure from the authorities and challenge the Kremlin to build a fairer and more prosperous country.

Navalny also addressed the judge and the prosecutor, arguing that they could have a much better life in a new Russian Federation.

"Our Voldemort in his palace also wants me to feel cut off", he added, in a reference to Mr Putin.

Protests continued for several weeks after Navlany's jailing, but his supporters now say demonstrations have been paused until the Spring.

Alexei Venediktov, one of Russia's most prominent journalists, noted what he called a defeatist atmosphere within the opposition in the absence of immediate plans for street protests. "Otherwise, you're just an inert chunk of randomly assembled molecules drifting wherever the universe blows you".

"Just imagine how wonderful life would be without constant lying", he said. "The rest of the order remains unchanged", the court ruling read. He was being treated for a near-fatal nerve agent attack, that he has blamed on Russian president, Vladimir Putin, The BBC reported. Russian Federation responded to the order by the Strasbourg, France-based court - of which Moscow is a member- by calling the ruling unlawful.

State prosecutors have asked the court to fine Navalny 950,000 roubles ($12,800) for slander.

In a sign of its long-held annoyance with the Strasbourg court's verdicts, Russian Federation a year ago adopted a constitutional amendment declaring the priority of national legislation over worldwide law.

But he has said his comments were not specifically directed against the veteran, and that the authorities are using the charge to smear his reputation.

Navalny had suggested the veteran, who participated in the hearing remotely, was mentally unable to follow the proceedings.

"You'll burn in Hell for all of this", he said.



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