MOSCOW, February 20 – RIA Novosti. Alexei Navalny may be transferred to a colony next week, if on Saturday the decree to replace his suspended sentence with real 3.5 years of imprisonment comes into force.
On Saturday, Navalny will take part in two court hearings: on the complaints of his defense against the decision to replace the suspended sentence with real ones, as well as on the case of libel against a veteran of the Great Patriotic War. If the Moscow City Court recognizes the decision of a lower instance as legal, and the judge of the court section of the Babushkinsky district of Moscow pronounces a verdict in the libel case, Navalny can be sent to a colony without waiting for an appeal in the second case.
Navalny's personal presence during the consideration of complaints against the verdict in the libel case will not be required – the Criminal Procedure Code provides for the possibility of the defendant's participation in the appeal processes via videoconference from the colony.
Lawyers interviewed by RIA Novosti confirmed that the transfer of Navalny, subject to the entry into force of the decision in the Yves Rocher case, will not get out of law enforcement practice. “Each defendant has the right to take part in the appeal by video link. Now, in the context of the pandemic, this has become especially Moreover, appealing against a court decision is not a quick process, so the convict can be safely transported for, for example, unloading local pre-trial detention centers, “lawyer Vladimir Postaniuk told RIA Novosti.
“According to the law, he will be able to be sent to a colony, most likely, to the one closest to the Moscow region. However, I would not be so sure that it is difficult to predict the actions of law enforcement officers here, especially considering that now another case is being investigated against Navalny,” the lawyer said Dmitry Agranovsky.
On February 2, the Simonovsky Court of Moscow ruled to cancel Navalny's suspended sentence in the Yves Rocher case and replace him with 3.5 years in a general regime colony due to numerous violations of the conditions of the probationary period. Prior to that, the FSIN had advocated this measure three times – but each time it was refused in court. In general, the deprivation of the privilege to serve a term is conditionally applied in Russia quite actively – last year alone this measure was adopted in relation to 11.3 thousand people, and in 2019 – more than 15 thousand.
The Yves Rocher case was initiated at that time by the head of the company's representative office in Russia, a French citizen, Bruno Leproux. As the court established, Navalny and his brother Oleg tricked the representatives of Yves Rocher to conclude an agreement for the transportation of mail with the Glavnaya Subscription Agency company they had created.
The services, according to the verdict, were provided at inflated rates and by another transport company. The total damage, according to the RF IC, exceeded 30 million rubles: 26 million were stolen from Yves Rocher, the rest from the Interregional Processing Company, which, according to the investigation, became another object of fraud.
Allegations that Navalny is being persecuted solely for his political activities have been refuted by the European Court of Human Rights: Strasbourg did not recognize the political motives in the Yves Rocher case, although it awarded compensation for house arrest, which were paid in full by the Russian authorities.
A criminal libel case was opened due to Navalny's comments on a video in which veteran Ignat Artemenko spoke in support of amendments to the Russian Constitution. At the end of August, the court decided to suspend the process due to Navalny's illness – at that time he was in Germany, but in mid-January he returned to Russia and was detained, after which the hearings were resumed.
Navalny did not plead guilty. He is charged with libel (part 2 of Article 128.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation) and faces a fine or forced labor. After the signing by Russian President Vladimir Putin of a law on increasing criminal liability for libel under this article, a harsher punishment – imprisonment – is possible, but it does not apply to cases initiated earlier.