Russia: Alexey Navalny appears in court on defamation charges
Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has appeared in a Moscow court facing charges of insulting a World War II veteran, after being ordered to prison in a separate case that sparked global outrage and mass protests in Russia
The hearing came a little over one week after the 44-year-old opposition leader, a persistent thorn in the side of President Vladimir Putin, was sentenced to serve nearly three years in jail.
Heavily-armed riot police surrounded the court before Friday’s hearing and set up cordons outside.
The Kremlin critic was charged after he criticised a video broadcast by state media last year, in which several citizens spoke out in favour of changing Russia’s constitution – a change critics say cemented President Vladimir Putin’s control of the government.
Navalny tweeted a clip of the video, calling the people who appeared in it “traitors”. One was a veteran who had fought in World War II and said he was so offended by Navalny’s comments that they led his health to deteriorate, prompting him to press defamation charges.
Navalny on Friday told the judge that she was selected for the trial because she was “the most unscrupulous judge in the world” and should go back to school to become better acquainted with Russian laws.
Navalny has denied the accusations and said the case was politically motivated.