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Navalny Again in Courtroom, This Time in Defamation Case

MOSCOW — Aleksei A. Navalny, the jailed Russian opposition chief, confronted a brand new felony trial on Friday — this time on expenses of slandering a battle veteran — whereas his supporters equipped for what they count on to be a yearslong battle in opposition to the Kremlin.

The beginning of the brand new trial got here three days after a unique courtroom sentenced Mr. Navalny to 2 years and eight months in jail for violating his parole on a 2014 embezzlement conviction that Europe’s prime human rights courtroom later dominated was politically motivated.

Attorneys for Mr. Navalny say he’s not in peril of further jail time within the new trial, and it gave the impression to be primarily a automobile for the Kremlin to tie his crew up additional within the courts whereas additionally giving the state information media a contemporary alternative to tar the opposition chief’s picture.

Prosecutors accuse Mr. Navalny of slandering a World Warfare II veteran in social media posts final 12 months. The posts criticized individuals who help President Vladimir V. Putin’s constitutional amendments authorised final July that permit him to stay in energy till 2036.

“The Kremlin wants headlines that say, ‘Navalny slandered a veteran!’” Mr. Navalny stated in courtroom on Friday, in response to the Dozhd tv channel.

Mr. Navalny can nonetheless enchantment his jail sentence within the earlier trial, and his allies are working to arrange their supporters for a protracted battle forward.

One in every of Mr. Navalny’s prime aides, Leonid Volkov, stated his camp wouldn’t be calling for extra avenue protests within the coming weeks as a result of it wanted to regroup earlier than nationwide parliamentary elections which might be scheduled for September.

“It is a path that would take a number of years, however that is our plan,” Mr. Volkov stated. “We have to protect our candidates for the election, and we have to protect our marketing campaign places of work.”

The Navalny camp’s technique is to construct up strain on the Kremlin and chip away at Mr. Putin’s legitimacy, with the expectation that in the end, his authority will collapse amid discontent in most of the people and within the ruling elite.

Mr. Navalny’s allies overseas, together with Mr. Volkov, are additionally more and more partaking with Western governments within the hopes of persuading them to imposed sanctions on individuals near Mr. Putin.

“If we hold going out each week, we’ll get 1000’s extra arrested and a whole lot extra crushed up and the work of the marketing campaign places of work will probably be paralyzed,” Mr. Volkov stated. “We’ll get Aleksei out of jail, at the start, utilizing foreign-policy strategies.”

The European Union’s overseas coverage chief, Josep Borrell Fontelles, was in Moscow to fulfill with Russia’s overseas minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, on Friday. Mr. Borrell has known as Mr. Navalny’s jail time period “politically motivated and in opposition to Russia’s worldwide human rights obligations.”

Russia counters that Western international locations are interfering in Russia’s home affairs by calling for Mr. Navalny’s freedom.

Mr. Navalny, in a letter from jail that his crew revealed late Thursday, known as on his supporters to maintain up the battle.

“The iron doorways slam shut behind me with a deafening clang, however I really feel like a free man,” Mr. Navalny wrote. “They’ll maintain onto energy, utilizing it for private acquire, solely by counting on our concern. However we, having overcome concern, can free our homeland from slightly bunch of thieving occupiers.”

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