Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny smiled and flashed a peace sign after a Moscow court rejected his appeal and upheld his two-and-half year sentence in a Russian labor camp.
In a ruling Saturday that was widely expected, the judge upheld a decision to imprison the anti-corruption activist, who has revealed lavish properties owned by Russian leader Vladimir Putin and his political cronies. The judge reversed the activist’s parole in a 2014 embezzlement case that Navalny had said was politically motivated, according to reports.
Navalny, 44, addressed his supporters from a glass-enclosed cell in the courtroom, invoking his faith in God and drawing on inspiration from cartoons and “Harry Potter.”
“To live is to risk all,” he said, quoting from the cartoon “Rick and Morty.” “Otherwise you’re just an inert chunk of randomly assembled molecules drifting wherever the universe blows you.”
Navalny, the country’s most popular opposition activist, survived an alleged government-ordered poisoning in August and then duped a Russian spy into detailing the plot against him.
In a second trial Saturday, Navalny was found guilty of slander against a World War II veteran and was fined $11,500. The vet appeared in a promotional video for Putin last year, which was aimed at allowing the Russian leader to run for two more terms. Navalny described the people in the video as traitors and lackeys.
Last month, thousands of people took to the streets in Moscow and cities throughout Russia to protest Navalny’s arrest after he returned to Russia after seeking medical help in Germany after the poisoning. While he was in jail, his supporters released a video showing a sprawling mansion in a Russian resort town that Navalny says belongs to Putin, and whose more than $1 billion price tag was paid for with stolen funds. The Kremlin has denied the allegation.
“I want Russia to be free but that’s not enough in itself,” said Navalny in the courtroom.. “We have everything but we are somehow still an unhappy country. I propose changing our slogan: Russia will be not only free, but also happy. Russia will be happy!”
The judge subtracted 45 days from Navalny’s original sentence of two years and eight months: “That’s much better,” he joked.
With Post wires