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EU rights court to rule on Russian opposition leader

15 November 2018, MVT 17:58
EU council meeting on going.
15 November 2018, MVT 17:58

Top Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny heads Thursday to the European Court of Human Rights which will rule on whether his repeated arrests were politically motivated.

The court in Strasbourg must decide whether Navalny, an anti-corruption campaigner and President Vladimir Putin's most vocal critic, was arbitrarily arrested and detained by Russian authorities.

Between 2012 and 2014 he was arrested seven times at public gatherings and prosecuted for either breaching procedures for holding public events or disobeying a police order.

Navalny was convicted on each occasion. He was fined five times and twice sentenced to administrative detention.

He was released from his latest jail term last month.

In February 2017, the international court first condemned Russia for violating his rights to "liberty", "freedom of assembly", and "fair trial", but rejected the accusation of "political motivations".

Both Navalny and Russian authorities appealed that decision.

Navalny, 42, travelled to Strasbourg on Wednesday.

A day earlier, border guards prevented him from flying out of Moscow for failing to pay a 2.1 million ruble ($31,000) fine connected to a 2013 conviction.

Authorities in recent months have turned up the heat on Navalny.

Putin's approval ratings have declined due to an unpopular pension reform. The ruling United Russia party has suffered setbacks in regional polls.

Navalny was barred from leaving the country between 2013 and 2017, when authorities refused to issue a passport because of legal cases against him.

He was eventually allowed to leave the country in May last year to seek treatment in Spain for damage to his eye after an assailant threw green dye in his face in Moscow.

He was barred from running against Putin in a presidential election in March.

The court will deliver its final ruling at 10:30 am (0930 GMT).

Strasbourg, France | AFP

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