Prosecutors on February 14 demanded Kremlin-critic Alexei Navalny be fined $13,000 for allegedly slandering a World War II veteran. According to Associated Press, the demand was made in a Moscow court during the latest proceedings against Navalny, whose allies have called the trial a politically motivated sham. Russian officials have accused the opposition leader of defaming a war veteran who took part in a Kremlin-organised promotional video. Navalny had mocked the people in the clip and called them “corrupt lackeys and traitors”.
The 44-year-old, who is Putin’s most prominent critic, has rejected the accusations of slandering the veteran and described them as part of the authorities’ efforts to disparage him. However, during Tuesday’s hearing at Moscow’s Babushkinsky District Court, prosecutors asked the judge to order Navalny to pay a fine of 950,000 rubles (about $13,000). The court, on the other hand, did not immediately rule on the demand and instead, adjourned the trial until February 20.
Meanwhile, during the February 12 trial, Navalny had mocked Russian President Vladimir Putin and criticised the judge. Navalny backed his lawyer's request to replace the judge, saying she needs to enrol herself in a school to improve her knowledge of the law. He is accused of defaming the World War II veteran, who appeared in a video last year promoting a constitutional reform that extended Putin's term limit as President by two years.
Navalny was arrested by the Russian authorities soon after returning from Germany last month, where he had been since August 2020 for treatment. Navalny was flown to Berlin from Russia last year after he fell ill during a flight from Tomsk to Moscow. Upon landing in Germany, doctors concluded Navalny had been poisoned using Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok. Navalny was in a medically-induced coma for almost a month following which he was kept in the hospital for recovery treatment.
Russian prison authorities issued a summon against Navalny asking him to appear before them or face jail time for violating a 2014 suspended sentencing. Navalny was accused of violating the terms of suspended sentencing from 2014, of which he had already served 10 months under house arrest. In February, the court ordered Navalny to fulfill his remaining time in prison, pronouncing him guilty in the parole violation case.