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Opposition Alexei Navalni, detained since his return to Russia on Sunday, will be tried on Wednesday for defamation of a former World War II fighter, a crime punishable by a fine or imprisonment, his lawyers announced Tuesday.
The Russian investigation committee opened this defamation case against Navalni in July, accused of having disseminated information “lying and injurious to the honor and dignity” of a veteran of the Second World War (1939-1945).
That person had expressed on television his support for the constitutional referendum last summer to strengthen the powers of Vladimir Putin.
The investigation of the case was suspended during the hospitalization of the opponent in Germany after his alleged poisoning in August, of which Navalni accuses the Kremlin, which the Russian authorities refute.
Navalni was arrested on Sunday when he returned to Russia from Berlin and will be imprisoned at least until February 15 in the framework of a procedure for violation of a judicial control. He is detained in Moscow under quarantine in the wake of the pandemic.
Depending on the seriousness of the facts, defamation can be punished with up to 5 million rubles in fine ($ 57,000, about 56,000 euros) and five years in prison. You may also be subject to lighter penalties, such as general interest work.
The Russian prison service had warned that Navalni would be arrested upon his return for violating the judicial control that had been imposed on him as part of a suspended five-year prison sentence for embezzlement, which the opponent considers to be politically motivated.
Since the end of December, he has also been the subject of a new fraud investigation on suspicion of having spent 356 million rubles (4.8 million dollars, 3.9 million euros in donations for his personal use.
The charismatic anti-corruption activist and sworn enemy of the Kremlin, 44, accuses Putin of ordering his assassination by poisoning him with a Novichok-type nerve agent.
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