Sun, 26 May 2019

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled in favor of Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny, declaring that his numerous convictions and jailings by Russian authorities violated his rights and were politically motivated.

The human rights court in Strasbourg, France, on November 15 delivered its ruling, rejecting an appeal filed by Russia over a previous judgment favoring Navalny.

In its latest ruling, the court upheld its previous decision that found Navalny's seven arrests and two instances of pretrial detention by Russian authorities between 2012 and 2014 violated his rights, "lacked a legitimate aim,' and "had not been necessary in a democratic society."

Russia's Constitutional Court has previously ruled that officials can ignore judgments by the ECHR if they are found to contravene the Russian Constitution.

Russia has lost a number of high-profile cases in Strasbourg and been ordered to pay out hefty compensation in scores of politically embarrassing cases.

Navalny, one of President Vladimir Putin's most prominent critics, attended the hearing in Strasbourg, posting a photo of himself and his brother Oleg on Instagram. He was originally prevented from boarding a flight out of Moscow on November 13.

The Federal Bailiffs Service (FSSP) said he was barred from leaving due to what it said was debt he owed to Kirovles, a state timber company at the center of a politically charged criminal case in which he has now been convicted twice.

The FSSP later said the fine was paid and that restrictions on Navalny's travel abroad had been lifted.

Navalny said he would sue the FSSP over what he called 'illegal activities' and demand compensation for the 29,542 rubles ($436) in financial losses he said he and his lawyer sustained due to the FSSP's decision to bar him from leaving.

Navalny, 42, has organized large street protests on several occasions since 2011 and has published a series of reports alleging corruption in Putin's circle.

He has repeatedly been jailed for periods ranging from 10 days to a few weeks, usually for alleged infractions of laws governing public demonstrations.

Navalny had spent nearly 200 days in jail since 2011, including 140 days since the start of his attempt to challenge Putin in the March 2018 presidential election, his spokeswoman has said.

Electoral authorities barred Navalny from the ballot, citing convictions in two financial-crimes cases he and his supporters contend were Kremlin-orchestrated efforts to punish him for his opposition activity and for the reports alleging corruption.

Navalny was convicted in 2013 of stealing money from Kirovles and was sentenced to five years in prison. But the sentence was later suspended, sparing him from serving time in prison.

In 2016, the ECHR ruled that the Kirovles trial was unfair and that the two men had been convicted of actions 'indistinguishable from regular commercial activity.'

The Russian Supreme Court then threw out the 2013 convictions and ordered a new trial.

In February 2017, the lower court again convicted the two men and handed down the same suspended prison sentence.

INFOGRAPHIC: All The Times Aleksei Navalny Has Been In Jail (swipe left and right to view full panorama)

In And Out: All The Times Aleksei Navalny Has Been In Jail RFE/RL

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Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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