Moscow Appeal Court Upholds Navalny Prison Sentence
By Staff, Agencies
A Moscow appeals court has upheld a ruling keeping the Kremlin's most prominent opponent jailed over a probation violation for several years.
Alexei Navalny, 44, looked to appeal a decision handed down earlier this month to imprison him for nearly three years for violating the terms of a suspended sentence on embezzlement charges.
He was ordered on February 2 to serve the time in a penal colony, for breaching the parole terms of the sentence while in Germany recovering from the poisoning.
As his appeal hearing began on Saturday, Navalny rejected the decision to jail him since he made no secret of his whereabouts in Germany and returned voluntarily to Russia.
"The whole question is, was I hiding or not hiding?" he told the court. "I bought a ticket and told everyone: I'm going home... This is just absurd."
Prosecutors in a separate trial have called for him to be fined the equivalent of $13,000 for calling a World War II veteran a "traitor" on Twitter last year, with a verdict also expected Saturday.
Supporters of the outspoken opposition figure say the rulings and several other cases against the 44-year-old are a pretext to silence his corruption exposes and quash his political ambitions.
Russia has come under increasing pressure to release Navalny since he was detained on arrival at a Moscow airport in January.
He had spent months recovering in Germany from the attack with Novichok that he blames on the Kremlin. Russia has repeatedly denied involvement.
The arrest sparked large protests across the country that saw more than 10,000 people detained, while the European Union threatened to impose new sanctions on Moscow.
Europe's rights court ruled this week that Russia must immediately release Navalny, in a motion swiftly brushed aside by the justice ministry.