Daily US Times: On Saturday, a Moscow court rejected Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s appeal against his prison sentence, even as the country faced a top European rights court’s order to free the country’s most prominent foe.
Speaking before the verdict, the Russian opposition leader urged Russians to stand up to the Kremlin in a fiery speech mixing references to the Bible and “Harry Potter.”
A lower court sentenced Navalny, one of the fierce critics of President Vladimir Putin, earlier this month to two years and eight months in prison for violating terms of his probation while recuperating in Germany from a nerve agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin.
The Kremlin has rejected the accusation.
Navalny is an anti-corruption crusader and President Putin’s most vocal critic. The 44-year-old leader appealed the prison sentence and asked to be released.
On Saturday, the Moscow City Court’s judge only slightly reduced his sentence to just over 2 1/2 years in prison, ruling that a month-and-half Navalny spent under house arrest in early 2015 will be deducted from his sentence.
Navalny’s arrest and imprisonment have fueled a huge wave of protests across Russia. Authorities responded with a sweeping crackdown, detaining about 11,000 people, many of whom were fined or given jail terms ranging from seven to 15 days.
Speaking before the verdict, Mr Navalny referenced the Bible as well as “Harry Potter” and the animated sitcom “Rick and Morty” as he urged Russians to resist pressure from the authorities and challenge the Kremlin to build a fairer and more prosperous country.
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