Alexei Navalny Hears His Fate on Appeal

Moscow judge rules the Russian dissident will remain in detention
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 20, 2021 6:00 AM CST
Alexei Navalny Hears His Fate on Appeal
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is seen in a cage in Babuskinsky District Court in Moscow on Saturday.   (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

An appeal by Alexei Navalny hasn't gone the way he'd hoped. The Russian opposition leader was sentenced earlier this month to two years and eight months in prison for breaking parole terms while recuperating in Germany from a Novichok poisoning he says was carried out by the Russian government. Per CNN, his attorney had petitioned the Moscow City Court to let her client go, insisting that both his health and his life were endangered if he remained in custody. But on Saturday, Judge Dmitry Balashov nixed that request, after prosecutors had argued the 44-year-old dissident "acted as if he was above the law," with "an exclusive right to do as he pleases," per the Moscow Times. If Navalny was distressed Saturday by his predicament, he didn't show it, flashing the "V" sign for "victory" and quoting from the Bible, the animated TV series Rick and Morty, and Harry Potter, per the AP.

"The government's task is to scare you and then persuade you that you are alone," he said in his closing statement, making a veiled reference to Russian President Vladimir Putin: "Our Voldemort in his palace also wants me to feel cut off." He also tried to appeal to the judge and prosecution team personally, telling them, "Just imagine how wonderful life would be without constant lying." There was a bit of good news for Navalny that emerged from the hearing: The court slashed his sentence by a month and a half for time he'd already served under house arrest in late 2014 and early 2015. The Kremlin critic's detention has spurred protests around the country since he was arrested upon his arrival back in Russia from Germany last month. Navalny is set to attend another hearing Saturday in which he faces a fine of up to $13,000 for calling a World War II veteran a "traitor" on Twitter last year. (Read more Alexei Navalny stories.)

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