An appeals court in Moscow has rejected jailed opposition politician Alexey Navalny’s move to have his nine-year prison sentence on charges of financial fraud and contempt of court struck down. 

The second court of appeals of common jurisdiction in the Russian capital announced its decision on Tuesday. 

Navalny, who took part in the hearing via a video link from a penal colony, and his defense team insisted that the verdict and sentence handed to the outspoken Kremlin critic in March while he was already serving another prison term from a separate case, are illegal and should be annulled. 

The Lefortovo district court in Moscow handed down the nine-year prison sentence to Navalny on March 22 after finding him guilty of embezzlement and contempt of court, charges that he and his supporters have repeatedly rejected as politically motivated. 

Navalny was arrested in January last year upon his arrival to Moscow from Germany, where he was treated for a poison attack with what European labs said was a Soviet-style nerve agent. 

He was then given a 2 1/2-year prison sentence for violating the terms of an earlier parole because of his convalescence abroad. The original conviction is widely regarded as a trumped-up, politically motivated case. 

Navalny has blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin for his poisoning with a Novichok-style poisonous substance. The Kremlin has denied any role in the attack. 

International organizations consider Navalny to be a political prisoner. The European Union, U.S. President Joe Biden, and other international officials have demanded that Russian authorities release the 46-year-old Kremlin-critic. 

Navalny is currently serving his term in a penal colony in the town of Pokrov in the region of Vladimir, some 200 kilometers east of Moscow. 

 

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