Russian Opposition Leader Alexei Navalny Mocks Putin, Berates Judge

Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny returned to court on Friday for a trial on slander charges he calls politically motivated

Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny returned to court on Friday for a trial on slander charges he calls politically motivated amid mounting tensions between Russia and the West over his jailing.

Confined in a glass box in the Moscow courtroom, Navalny did not hold back in showing his frustration. He berated the judge, mocked a prison official and sparred with the prosecutor.

In the previous hearing on the slander charges when Navalny went on trial again on charges of defaming a World War II veteran, he had stolen the show — mocking the judge and clashing with relatives of the veteran, whose family he accused of being “political prostitutes” and using the 94-year-old.

Judge Vera Akimova at one point threatened to remove Navalny from the courtroom and the hearing was suspended when the veteran said he felt unwell and an ambulance was called.

Navalny was back in court on Friday for the next hearing in the defamation case, showing no signs of backing down as he berated the judge.

“Stop shaming yourself and enrol in some courses to improve your knowledge of the laws of the Russian Federation,” Navalny said, backing a request from his lawyer for the judge to be replaced.

In his February 2 hearing too, when a judge ordered him jailed for nearly three years on old fraud charges, Navalny launched a blistering attack on Putin.

He mocked the Russian leader over allegations the Novichok nerve agent used to poison him had been placed in his underwear, and told the court that Putin would “go down in history as a poisoner of underpants”. Also, he sparred with officials and prosecutors in court, mocking their claims that he should have turned up for parole appointments by pointing out that he was in a coma.

Navalny, President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent critic, was jailed 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.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier on Friday that Moscow was ready to sever ties with the European Union if the bloc hit it with painful economic sanctions. Moscow has accused the West of hysteria over the case.

In the slander case, Navalny stands accused of defaming a World War II veteran who took part in a promotional video backing constitutional reforms last year that let Putin run for two more terms in the Kremlin after 2024 if he wants.

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

Navalny’s arrest and jailing has sparked nationwide street protests in Russia. His allies plan to stage a new kind of protest on Sunday and are urging his followers to gather for 15 minutes in residential courtyards across the country, shining their mobile phone torches and lighting candles.

 

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