News of the Day: 20 February 2021

RFE/RL: Moscow’s Babushkinsky district court has upheld opposition politician Aleksei Navalny’s prison sentence relating to his embezzlement conviction, but reduced the sentence by 1 1/2 months. Navalny had appealed a sentence handed down earlier this month in relation to a previous and controversial embezzlement conviction.

The Guardian: A Moscow court has rejected an appeal from Alexei Navalny that virtually guarantees the Russian opposition figure will be sent to a prison camp for two and a half years. In a widely expected ruling, the judge upheld a decision to imprison Navalny by reversing a parole handed down in 2014 for embezzlement in a case Navalny said was politically motivated. From a glass-enclosed holding cell, Navalny delivered an impassioned appeal to a wider base of Russians who are unhappy with life under Vladimir Putin’s leadership.

The Guardian: The opposition leader Alexei Navalny has appealed to Russians after a Moscow court on Saturday rejected his appeal against his prison sentence, despite the European court of human rights’ order to free the Kremlin’s most prominent foe. The judge slightly reduced his sentence to just over two and a half years in prison, ruling that the month and a half Navalny spent under house arrest in early 2015 would be deducted from his sentence.

The Moscow Times: A Moscow court on Saturday upheld a ruling to jail the Kremlin’s most prominent opponent Alexei Navalny, sealing his first lengthy prison sentence after a decade of legal battles with Russian authorities. Another court also convicted Navalny on defamation charges — part of a slew of cases he has faced since returning to Russia from Germany last month after a poison attack he blames on the Kremlin. In the first hearing on Saturday, Judge Dmitry Balashov dismissed Navalny’s appeal of a decision to imprison him for violating the terms of a suspended sentence on embezzlement charges he says were politically motivated. Navalny, 44, was ordered on Feb. 2 to serve two years and eight months in a penal colony for breaching his parole terms while he was in Germany recovering from the nerve agent. […] Hours later another judge convicted Navalny of defamation for calling a World War II veteran a “traitor” for appearing in a pro-Kremlin video. Judge Vera Akimova ordered him to pay a fine of 850,000 rubles ($11,500). The 94-year-old veteran appeared in a video that Navalny derided for promoting constitutional reforms, passed last year, that could allow President Vladimir Putin to stay in power until 2036. The defamation was widely covered on state television and Navalny accused Russian authorities of using the veteran as a “puppet” to try to discredit him. […] Supporters of the outspoken opposition figure say the cases are a pretext to silence his corruption exposes and quash his political ambitions.

RFE/RL: A Russian political researcher has been arrested in Moscow on a charge of high treason. Moscow’s Lefortovo district court disclosed on February 20 that Demuri Voronin will remain in pretrial detention until at least April 13. Media reports cited sources close to the investigation as saying that Voronin was suspected of sharing classified material to a Western intelligence agency. If convicted, Voronin faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to 500,000 rubles ($6,759). Russia’s Investigative Committee has not commented on the arrest.

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