Alexei Navalny back in court for 'politically motivated' slander trial

Russian state prosecutors have asked for Alexei Navalny to be fined 950,000 roubles (£9,300) for slandering a second world war veteran, a charge the Kremlin critic calls politically motivated.

Navalny, Vladimir Putin’s most prominent critic, was jailed this month for almost three years for parole violations he said were trumped up. The west has condemned the case and is discussing possible sanctions on Russia.

He returned to court on Tuesday for a case in which he is accused of slandering a veteran who took part in a promotional video backing constitutional changes last year that let Putin run for two more terms in the Kremlin after 2024 if he chooses.

Navalny described the people in the video as traitors and corrupt lackeys. He accuses authorities of using the slander charges to smear his reputation.

Veterans of what Moscow calls the great patriotic war are revered by most Russians and criticism of them is regarded as socially unacceptable and insulting.

It had been unclear before Tuesday whether state prosecutors would seek a custodial sentence in the slander case on top of a fine.

Navalny’s lawyer has said his client cannot face a custodial sentence in this instance because the alleged crime was committed before the law was changed to make it a jailable offence. It remains unclear whether the judge in the case agrees with that analysis.

Navalny’s arrest and jailing prompted nationwide street protests in Russia, but his allies say they have paused serious demonstrations until the spring.


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