22 Mar 2022 10:47

Russian court convicts Navalny of fraud, contempt of court

POKROV, Vladimir region. March 22 (Interfax) - The Lefortovsky Court of Moscow has found opposition activist Alexei Navalny guilty of massive fraud and of contempt of court, an Interfax correspondent reported.

"Alexei Navalny committed fraud, i.e. misappropriation of someone else's assets through lies and abuse of trust," Judge Margarita Kotova said when pronouncing Navalny's conviction on Tuesday.

The court has found Navalny guilty of all episodes of massive fraud that he was accused of, according to the conviction.

"Navalny has committed contempt of court," Judge Kotova said. 

Navalny's conviction is being pronounced at the Lefortovsky Court's session, which is taking place at Correctional Facility No. 2 in Pokrov, Vladimir region.

The state prosecutor demanded on March 15 that Moscow's Lefortovsky District Court sentence Navalny to 13 years in a high-security penitentiary with two-year freedom restraints and a fine of 1.2 million rubles.

The opposition activist's defense team, in turn, insisted on an acquittal, arguing that there was no crime in Navalny's actions.

According to the bill of indictment, Navalny established a network of his associates Leonid Volkov, Roman Rubanov and others, who raised donations from the general public for operating the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK, designated as extremist and banned in Russia), the Fund for the Protection of Citizens' Rights (FZPG, designated as extremist and banned in Russia), and the Navalny Staffs (designated as extremist and banned in Russia), and for the 2018 presidential race.

The prosecutors said that, instead of the statutory activity of his NGOs, the donations were spent by Navalny on extremism and personal needs.

They also said that Navalny was raising funds for his presidential campaign despite being convicted and deprived of passive election rights, "thus misleading donors about his real objectives."

According to investigators, Navalny and his accomplices stole and spent at their own discretion the donations from four citizens totaling 2,693,503 rubles.

In addition, according to the investigators, the opposition activist "neglected generally accepted norms, and seeking to humiliate [a judge] and impede normal legal proceedings," insulted justice of the peace Vera Akimova, who was hearing his case of slandering World War II veteran Ignat Artyomenko in 2021.

The bill of indictment also says that Navalny insulted prosecutor Yekaterina Frolova in the case of slandering the veteran and the veteran's grandson Igor Kolesnikov.

Navalny pleaded not guilty and said that the activities he was accused of were actually normal political work.