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Russian appeals court affirms Alexey Navalny jail sentence

By Allen Cone
Russian appeals court affirms Alexey Navalny jail sentence
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny gestures inside a glass cage before a court hearing in Moscow on Saturday. Photo by Yuri Kochetkov /EPA-EFE

Feb. 20 (UPI) -- A Russian appeals court Saturday affirmed a jail sentence for activist Alexey Navalny, reducing it by 2 1/2 months for time served from 2 1/2 years.

The opposition leader's appeal was heard at Moscow City Court.

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On Feb. 2, a lower court ruled that while Navalny was in Germany, he violated probation terms from a 2014 fraud case of a suspended sentence of three and a half years.

He had spent five months in Germany recovering from poisoning he blamed on the Russian government, which has denied any involvement. Upon arrival in Moscow, he was immediately detained.

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Judge Dmitry Balashov reduced the sentence for when he was under house arrest from December 2014 to February 2015.

In court Saturday, Navalny's lawyer Olga Mikhailova said his client's life and health were in danger.

The European Court of Human Rights has demanded his release.

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Navaly was behind a glass cage for defendants. He flashed the V for victory symbol.

"The Bible says: 'Blessed are those who hunger for righteousness, for they will be satisfied,'" he told the court. "I have no regrets that I am back."

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Describing the legal process as "absurd, he said "Russia should be not only free, but also happy."

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Prosecutors said he acted as if he had "an exclusive right to do as he pleases."

Later Saturday also in Moscow,, a judge fined Navalny 850,000 rubles, $11,400, for calling a World War II veteran a "traitor" on Twitter last year.

"One day of this trial costs much more than the veteran got in the last four years from the very state that dares to claim it cares about veterans," Navalny said at the defamation hearing Saturday.

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