Alexei Navalny is accused of wasting trust

The Lefortovo Court of Moscow on Tuesday began considering a new criminal case against Alexei Navalny. The process is taking place in a colony in the Vladimir region, where the politician is serving a two and a half year sentence in the Yves Rocher case. He is accused of embezzling 2.7 million rubles donated by supporters. and in insulting the judge and participants in the process during the consideration of the case of libel against a war veteran. The defendant pleaded not guilty, calling the case a political one, and the first meeting ended with a study of the oppositionist’s personal expenses.

A lectern, tables and chairs were set up for the court participants in the assembly hall of colony No. 2, and a video broadcast was organized for journalists in a separate room. After the break, part of the press was called to the “courtroom”, but on the condition that you can only take a pen, a notebook and nothing from technology with you. The same conditions were imposed on the lawyers of the defendant, Olga Mikhailova and Vadim Kobzev. Judge Margarita Kotova rejected the petition to cancel this ban, noting that “also without a telephone.” She also denied other defense requests, in particular, to transfer Alexei Navalny to Moscow to make the process more open and to give him the opportunity to change clothes. “He is now not in the clothes that the defendant needs to wear, but in a robe. This was done on purpose so that he would be perceived as already convicted,” Mikhailov’s lawyer explained, and the oppositionist himself joked that he didn’t need a “sequined suit”, “jeans and a T-shirt” would suffice.

The Federal Penitentiary Service, in turn, notes that “the regime of the court session is as loyal as possible” in relation to the defendant and cannot be considered “closed”: despite the regime of the facility, Mr. Navalny’s wife, Yulia, was admitted to the session, more than 100 journalists from 38 media were accredited, and the broadcast for them is organized to comply with anti-COVID restrictions. An offsite court session in a correctional facility is no exception, the department insists: only from January 1, 2019 to January 1, 2022, 8,947 offsite sessions were held in institutions of the penitentiary system.

After rejecting the motions of the defense, the court heard the indictment. The prosecutor began with accusations of fraud (part 4 of article 159 of the Criminal Code).

When the ICR announced in December 2020 that this case had been initiated, it was said that Mr. Navalny and “other persons” spent 356 million rubles for personal needs, donated to the work of NGOs he created, including the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK , recognized as an extremist organization and banned in the Russian Federation). However, shortly before the trial, lawyers said that the oppositionist was presented with only four episodes, which coincides with the number of victims mentioned in the indictment who donated money from 2015 to 2021 to the presidential campaign of Mr. Navalny and to develop his investigative activities. In total, they transferred almost 2.7 million rubles. It is this amount that is imputed to the defendant as stolen.

In addition to him, the ex-FBK director Roman Rubanov and Leonid Volkov, who are abroad, appear in the case, who, according to the investigation, acted “by prior agreement”, “by deception” and “abuse of trust” of their supporters. To raise money, the oppositionists published investigations and campaign materials, knowing in advance that Alexei Navalny would not be able to run for president due to the outstanding conviction in the Kirovles case, and the donations received would not go to the work of foundations, but to personal goals, to which the prosecutor attributed extremist activity.

In response, the defendant stated that investigations were being carried out, and the Kirovles case was sent for review at that moment after the comments of the ECtHR.

“When the Investigative Committee announced that they wanted to imprison me for stealing money, I thought 300,000 people would be interviewed — so many people have been transferring donations to us since 2011,” Mr. Navalny said. “What did I get? Four people brought applications for 2 million rubles.”

Earlier, the politician’s associates stated that they consider the two victims to be figureheads. One of them allegedly worked as a mechanic and had a low income, but on December 28, 2020, he donated 1 million 20 thousand rubles to FBK. (amount over 1 million makes the theft especially large). The money, according to them, was transferred directly to the fund’s account, which was not published anywhere, and the criminal case itself was initiated the next day.

The prosecutor also read out the accusation in the case of contempt of court: it follows from it that in early 2021, Alexei Navalny insulted judge Vera Akimova, prosecutor Yekaterina Frolova and witness Igor Kolesnikov (parts 1 and 2 of article 297 of the Criminal Code) during the process, according to as a result of which the politician was awarded a fine of 850 thousand rubles. for slandering war veteran Ignat Artemenko. The accusation included 104 phrases of Mr. Navalny, which create “the image of a judge and a prosecutor – non-professionals”, and the veteran grandson who spoke as a witness is presented as a “trafficker”. In addition to expressions like “disgusting, vile granddaughter”, “burn in hell to the judge” and “Sturmbannführer”, “damn”, “my God” and “goof” also appear in the case. Commenting on this part of the case, the defendant stated: “Should I write down that Navalny insulted God, or whom could I offend with the phrase“ my God ”?” Mr. Navalny believes that the case against him is political, but he “will not commit a real crime by being frightened and silent,” because “to be afraid is humiliating.”

Next, the court moved on to study the case materials, namely the personal expenses of Alexei Navalny and his family for five years. The oppositionist did not object, noting in passing that in the case “there is not a single word about the fact that at least a penny” from the donations came to his account.

Among the expenditure items, the prosecutor mentioned sports clubs, clothes, taxis, online services, education, hairdressers and even groceries. “In five years, I spent 8 million – an average of 130 thousand rubles. per month,” the oppositionist commented on these conclusions. “And now the whole country knows that I am subscribed to Netflix and spent 98 thousand rubles on groceries.” Mr. Navalny also added that his official income exceeded the figures mentioned, and he “officially disclosed” the amount of earnings.

The prosecutor read out the expenses for more than an hour, after which the court adjourned until February 21. Earlier, the wife of Alexei Navalny, Yulia, asked about this, reminding the court that in the coming days the colony approved a three-day meeting with them.

Kira Heifetz


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