20 Feb 2021 21:02

Court fines Navalny 850,000 rubles for slandering WWII veteran

MOSCOW. Feb 20 (Interfax) - A magistrate's court, at a session at Moscow's Babushkinsky Court on Saturday, ordered Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny to pay a fine of 850,000 rubles for slandering World War II veteran Ignat Artyomenko, an Interfax correspondent reported from the courtroom.

"Alexei Navalny shall be found guilty for slander contained in a public speech, Part 2 of Article 128 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, and shall be ordered to pay a fine of 850,000 rubles as a penalty," Judge Vera Akimova said when pronouncing the court ruling.

The court recognized the fact that Navalny has a young child as a mitigating circumstance. The court did not find any aggravating circumstances in the case.

The magistrate also ruled in favor of the prosecutor's motion to ask the Investigative Committee to check the remarks made by Navalny about the participants in the slander trial.

"The court hereby states that it has sent material to the Investigative Committee of Russia to check the remarks [made] by Alexei Navalny," Judge Vera Akimova said.

Navalny's lawyers are expected to appeal the ruling.

"Of course, we will appeal it," lawyer Olga Mikhailova told journalists.

The state prosecutor had asked the court to impose a 950,000-ruble fine on the opposition member.

The prosecutors say that on June 2, 2020, Navalny published a post on Twitter and Telegram about a video aired on the RT television channel, which was filmed in support of Russia's constitutional amendments and featured war veteran Artyomenko. Navalny posted a comment that contained knowingly false information denigrating Artyomenko's honor and dignity, according to the prosecution.

The court believes that the opposition activist "maliciously intended to publish information undermining the reputation of the aggrieved party," according to the court ruling.

"Alexei Navalny knew for certain that the information disseminated by him was false [...]. Navalny's criminal actions caused moral damage to the veteran of the Great Patriotic War," the judge said.

Navalny himself denies any wrongdoing and views his case as politically motivated.

Magistrate Vera Akimova from Precinct 321 of the Babushkinsky district of Moscow is handling the Navalny trial on slander charges. The proceedings are taking place in the Babushkinsky Court building due to the extensive public attention to this trial.

Navalny is currently in custody after earlier this month a court replaced his 3.5-year suspended sentence received in 2014 as part of the so-called Yves Rocher case with a real prison term.

Earlier on Saturday, the Moscow City Court found the replacement of Navalny's suspended sentence in the Yves Rocher case with a real prison term lawful, but credited 45 days of house arrest to the jail term. As a result, Navalny will serve about two and a half years in a penitentiary