Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny could be sent to a prison camp within days after losing appeal

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Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny talks to one of his lawyers Moscow City Court via AP
  • Russian opposition leader and Putin critic, Alexey Navalny, likely to be sent to prison camp.
  • Navalny lost his appeal, although a judge reduced his 3-year sentence by six weeks.
  • The former lawyer faces another trial on Saturday, this time for slander.
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Russian opposition leader and vocal Putin critic, Alexey Navalny, lost his court appeal and faces a transfer to a prison camp within days, Reuters reported. The former lawyer was arrested after landing back in Russia, following his Berlin-based hospitalisation. He was being treated for a near-fatal nerve agent attack, which he has blamed on Russian president, Vladimir Putin, The BBC reported.

His arrest, for charges he claims are fabricated, has sparked mass protests across Russia and escalated tensions with Western governments, seeing condemnation from the EU and US, The Guardian reported.

The Kremlin, Russia’s government, denies any involvement in his poisoning.

Navalny charges were for breaking the terms of a suspended sentence in 2014 for embezzlement. These required him to report regularly to Russian police; however, he was unable to do so when recovering in Germany.

Navalny called the charges “absurd” as he was unable to report to police during recovery.

“The whole world knew where I was,” he said. “Once I’d recovered, I bought a plane ticket and came home,” The BBC reported. “The main thing I want to say is don’t be afraid,” he said, in a speech that cited the Bible, the Harry Potter series and sci-fi cartoon series Rick and Morty.

On February 16, the European court of human rights (ECHR) ruled that Russia risked breaching the European Convention on Human Rights if it did not release Navalny immediately, according to Bloomberg. This court decision was rejected by officials in Moscow.

Despite dismissing the appeal, the judge did reduce Navalny’s three-year sentence in a penal colony by six weeks, per The BBC.

Navalny is also unlikely to get an early release as he has been labelled an escape threat, the state-run Tass news service reported Friday, citing a member of Russia’s Public Oversight Committee.

His defence team said it would appeal Saturday’s ruling, Bloomberg reported.

The opposition activist faces a fine of 950,000 rubles ($US13,000) in a separate case later on Saturday. He stands accused of slandering a second world war veteran who praised President Putin, per The Guardian.