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Moscow City Court publishes full text of appellate ruling upholding Navalny’s prison sentence

The Moscow City Court has published the full text of its appellate ruling upholding the decision to imprison opposition politician Alexey Navalny for allegedly violating his parole in the Yves Rocher case. The document was added to Navalny’s case file on the court’s website on Sunday, February 28.

The decision includes Judge Dmitry Balashov’s comments on the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) calling for Navalny’s immediate release. The judge said that he couldn’t take the ECHR’s order into account “because said court isn’t a higher court for the Russian Federation’s judicial system.” According to Balashov, the ECHR has no right to give Russian judges “any categorical instructions and interfere in the activities of national courts related to the execution of sentences that have entered into legal force.” The judge also argued that the ECHR addressed its appeal not to the courts, but to the Russian government, and as such, it doesn’t apply to the court proceedings on revoking Navalny’s probation. 

While Navalny and his lawyers maintained that he was imprisoned for political reasons, and that the defense had reason to fear for the opposition politician’s life and health while in a penal colony, Judge Balashov dismissed these claims as “unfounded speculation.” According to the judge, these allegations are presumptive in nature and not supported by “any objective data.”

The appellate ruling states that over the course of his probationary period, Navalny failed to appear for registration with the Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) on designated days on more than two occasions in a year. In addition, Judge Balashov said that after being discharged from the Charité Hospital in Berlin, where he was treated for chemical nerve agent poisoning, Navalny failed to inform the FSIN about his whereabouts for more than 30 days. According to the judge, both of these circumstances are “indisputably autonomous grounds for the court to make a decision on the cancellation […] of the probation sentence and the execution of the punishment appointed by the verdict of the court.” 

On February 17, the European Court of Human Rights invoked Rule 39 and called on the Russian authorities to release Alexey Navalny from custody immediately, citing the “nature and extent of the risk” to his life in pre-trial detention. The Russian Justice Ministry responded to the ECHR’s order by calling it “deliberately impracticable.”

The Moscow City Court held an appeal hearing challenging the decision to convert Alexey Navalny’s probation into a real prison sentence on February 20. The court upheld the ruling, but reduced Navalny’s prison sentence by six weeks, taking into account the time he spent under house arrest in 2014–2015. Navalny will now spend two and a half years in a penal colony.

Following the court’s decision, Alexey Navalny — who had been in custody at Moscow’s Matrosskaya Tishina remand prison for nearly a month and a half — was transferred to a penal colony. According to media reports, the opposition politician was moved to Penal Colony Number 2 in the city of Pokrov, Vladimir region. The FSIN has yet to confirm Navalny’s whereabouts. 

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The ECHR has called for Navalny’s release. What happens if Russia refuses?

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