02/22/2021, 15.10
RUSSIA
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Navalny tells judges, 'You're all going to hell'

by Vladimir Rozanskij

Putin's opponent gets two-and-a-half-year in prison. He announced that he is Christian, and noted that “there is a book that says what needs to be done, and I try to stick to it.” Praising the  power of truth, he slams Russian authorities for exploiting veterans for political purposes. He could face more charges.

Moscow (AsiaNews) – The Babushkinsky District Court upheld the two-and-a-half-year prison sentence imposed on Alexei Navalny in the Yves Rocher case. The sentence, issued on Saturday, includes a reduction of one and a half months.

President Vladimir Putin's renowned opponent was convicted of failing to comply with probation terms during his time in Germany where he was treated for poisoning.

The court also fined him US$ 11,500 for slandering Ignat Artemenko, a World War Two veteran.

Forced to listen to the reading of the sentences in handcuffs, Putin's adversary was allowed to speak during the trials. In both cases, he took on a solemn accusatory tone, almost like a biblical prophet.

Navalny first accused Putin and the judges of “using the justice system like magicians,” turning it around and doing with it as they wished. “I am not alone in seeing your escapades; regular folks are watching us” too.

Using evangelical language, he cited messages that he recently received. “They write me to tell me to resist, not to give up.” One person asked him, “Why do you put up with all this? In interviews you say you believe in God, and He said ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.” So it’s okay with you?”

Thinking about these words, Navalny said: “He's right. At this difficult time, I am satisfied because I have done what is written, I have not betrayed the commandment.”

Navalny said he believes in God. “People in my Anti-Corruption Fund chuckle over this, but it makes my life easier, because there is a book that says what needs to be done, and I try to stick to it.”

Citing Putin's scornful words (“Who needs this man?”), the activist pointed out that “for people today, this commandment sounds very strange and bombastic. Those who cite it seem crazy, strange people who stand in their cells and try to find consolation in their loneliness. People of no use.”

According to Navalny, “those in power do everything to make these individuals feel alone. First, by scaring them, then by showing them that normal and regular people do not deal with nonsense such as the commandments.”

In addition to the Gospel, as a good communicator, Navalny cited the “Harry Potter” saga, comparing Putin to the evil Lord Voldemort, who, “locked in his castle, just wants you to feel alone. So I think that the words about thirst for justice, so exotic, are instead the most important political idea that we have in Russia today.”

Navalny insisted that “the real strength lies in the truth, and those who are on its side will win.”

He then presented his political programme based on truth and justice. “Many are afraid of revolution, but imagine how beautiful it would be to live without lies and in freedom. I want a Russia that is not only free, but also happy.”

Speaking at his second trial, Navalny turned around the allegations that he slandered Ignat Artemenko, saying that Russian authorities are exploiting veterans for political purposes, without actually defending their rights or providing them with a decent level of assistance.

On the contrary, he explains, that the country's leaders “steal their pensions, their money and those of citizens in order to build themselves princely dwellings. You, with this trial, whose purpose is clear, have humiliated and offended veterans more than anyone else.”

The activist ended his address by saying: “This is why you're going to burn in hell. And since you're still young, I hope you will be called to answer before a real court with people.”

For Navalny, judges may deceive a part of the television audience, but he is sure that this will not work.

“A lot of people are following this trial, and they are disgusted and bitter, because no one should be able to make fun of veterans, pensioners and ordinary citizens. Justice will eventually win, and everyone will have to be held accountable for their actions.”

Following the two speeches, Judge Vera Akimova, who presided over the veteran's case, asked the Federal Investigative Committee to investigate the convicted person for “insulting the participants in the trial.” This could lead to further prosecutions and new convictions, up to six months of further jail time.

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