24 May 2022 12:23

Moscow City Court upholds Navalny's conviction of fraud, contempt of court

MOSCOW. May 24 (Interfax) - The Moscow City Court has dismissed an appeal from Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny, who was sentenced to nine years in a penitentiary on counts of fraud and contempt of court, an Interfax correspondent reported from the courtroom.

"The sentence handed down by the Lefortovsky District Court is upheld, and the appeal is dismissed," a judge said on Tuesday.

Hence, the sentence has taken effect, and Navalny will soon be transferred to a high-security penitentiary.

A high-security penitentiary differs from a general correctional institution in its custody conditions above all. For instance, inmates of high-security penitentiaries have larger restrictions on the number of visitations and parcels and letters they receive, the amount of spending from their personal accounts, and daily yard time.

Navalny attended the hearing by video link.

The prosecution service insisted that the sentence was just and demanded that it be upheld.

The defense asked the court to overrule the sentence and to acquit Navalny.

On March 22, Moscow's Lefortovsky District Court found opposition activist Alexei Navalny guilty of fraud and contempt of court and sentenced him to nine years in a high-security penitentiary. Navalny has also been fined 1.2 million rubles.

According to the bill of indictment, Navalny established a network of associates, including 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, Navalny was found guilty of contempt of court.

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.