Russian prosecutors ask court to fine Navalny 950,000 rubles for slandering war veteran
A state prosecutor has asked Moscow’s Babushinsky District Court to fine opposition politician Alexey Navalny 950,000 rubles (nearly $13,000) for slandering a World War II veteran, Meduza’s correspondent reported from the courtroom on Tuesday, February 16.
Navalny’s defense team, in turn, has asked the court for his acquittal.
Tuesday’s proceedings marked Navalny’s third hearing in the defamation case launched against him in June 2020, after he called a group of public figures “corrupt hacks” for appearing in an advertisement for Russia’s constitutional plebiscite aired by the state-run media outlet Russia Today. State investigators maintained that Navalny’s comments “discredited the honor and dignity” of Ignat Artemenko, a World War II veteran who appeared in the video.
At the beginning of the hearing on Tuesday, state prosecutor Ekaterina Frolova suggested dividing the materials from the criminal case into separate proceedings. Frolova argued that state investigators should look into Navalny’s “offensive” statements to the judge, the prosecutor, and the complainant.
In response, Navalny called himself a “lovely defendant” and said that “we have been present at the birth of a new criminal case.” Judge Vera Akimova deemed the prosecution’s petition premature, adding that she will make a decision on this issue when making ruling in the criminal case.
Navalny’s defamation trial will resume at 2:00 p.m. Moscow time, on Saturday, February 20.The opposition politician now has two hearings scheduled for that day: at 10:00 a.m. local time, the Moscow City Court is set to consider his appeal against the Simonovsky District Court’s decision to imprison him for allegedly violating the terms of probation in the Yves Rocher case.
How Navalny will be transported between the two courts remains unknown. Spokespeople for the Moscow City Court promised to offer clarification on this procedure at a later time.
In a comment on today’s hearing, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov underscored that “insulting veterans is not allowed in this country,” RIA Novosti reported.
On February 2, the Simonovsky District Court revoked Navalny’s probation in the Yves Rocher case and sentenced him to three and a half years in prison. Pending the appellate ruling, Navalny will spend two years and eight months behind bars due to time already served under house arrest.
Navalny is also facing felony fraud charges for allegedly embezzling hundreds of millions of rubles in donations made to his non-profit and other organizations. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison.