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Defamation lawsuit against Navalny postponed to February 5

Russian justice has postponed to February 5 a libel lawsuit against Alexeï Navalny, said Wednesday the lawyer of the Russian opponent facing multiple legal proceedings since his return to Russia. “The court today postponed the defamation hearing because Alexeï Navalny is in detention and has not been brought (to court),” Olga Mikhailova told ..

Mr. Navalny was arrested on Sunday upon his return from Germany, where he was recovering from his suspected poisoning in August, for which he holds President Vladimir Putin responsible despite denials from Moscow. He has since been held alone in his cell for fourteen days, under measures to limit the coronavirus epidemic.

In the case, the hearing of which was postponed on Wednesday, Mr. Navalny is accused of disseminating “insulting” information against a veteran who had supported a recent constitutional referendum which strengthened the powers of Vladimir Putin . The activist, who faces a fine and up to five years in prison, denounces a political accusation.

On February 2, he is also due to appear for violating the terms of a 2014 three-and-a-half-year suspended sentence. The sentence could be transformed into firm detention. It was in connection with this case that he was detained on Monday at least until February 15.

Mr. Navalny has also been targeted since the end of December by an investigation for “massive fraud”, an offense punishable by 10 years in prison.

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