Russian Appeals Court Jails Opposition Leader Alexei Navalny


By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent

(Worthy News) – ’s prominent opposition leader Alexei Navalny lost an appeal against his jailing Saturday but said he believes God will help him face challenges. Hours later, he was also convicted in a defamation case.

A Moscow appeal court upheld a prison sentence and explained he would be jailed for just over two-and-a-half years in a penal colony. Judge Dmitry Balashov rejected Navalny’s arguments against the February 2 ruling by a lower court. It turned a suspended sentence into real jail time.

However, the judge decided to count six weeks Navalny was under house arrest as part of the time served. The sentence stems from a 2014 embezzlement conviction that Navalny has rejected as fabricated.

The European Court of has ruled it to be unlawful and demanded his release. His detention also sparked across Russia. Authorities responded with a massive crackdown, arresting about 11,000 people, many of whom were fined or given jail terms ranging from seven to 15 days.

In January, Navalny was arrested when he returned to Russia after months in recovering from a nerve agent poisoning he blames on the Kremlin. Moscow has denied wrongdoing.

PAROLE CONDITIONS

Navalny was detained for violating parole conditions of the suspended sentence, such as regularly reporting to . It was then turned into a custodial sentence.

Navalny called the charges “absurd,” saying he could not report to the police while recovering from the nerve agent attack. “The whole world knew where I was. Once I’d recovered, I bought a plane ticket and came home.”

Later Saturday, he also lost in another trial. This time on charges of defamation for calling a World II veteran a “traitor” after the man appeared in a pro-Kremlin video.

Prosecutors have called for Navalny to be fined the equivalent of $13,000 in that case. Speaking from behind a cage’s window in the Moscow appeal court, Navalny said he was an before but has come to believe in God. The married father of two added that his helped him face his challenges.

He said he believed the saying that “those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are blessed.” And, Navalny said, he felt no regret in returning home.

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