Alexey Navalny, the Russian opposition activist famous for his anti-corruption campaigning, is running for the mayor of Moscow in the September 8 election. He is running while appealing a conviction for “embezzlement.” The conviction is preposterous and shows once again that in politically sensitive cases Russian courts tend to be completely subservient to the Kremlin.
The case should not have gone to trial because there was no crime – no corpus delicti as they say in Continental law (from which Russian law is derived), as I tried to make clear in the previous post.
The judge’s ruling was absurd as it completely ignored the witness testimony and defense arguments at the actual trial. The judge pasted the prosecution’s indictment into his report without as much as winking an eye: the trial might as well have never happened. It was all rather shameless as the proceedings were public and gazeta.ru published detailed dispatches from the courtroom. When crossed-examined by Navalny and his lawyer, most of the prosecution’s witnesses ended up supporting Navalny’s version of events. All in all, the transcripts showed that the state had no case and the trial was a waste of time.
But there are two curious legal tricks the prosecution used to support its claim that embezzlement actually happened and that Navalny “stole” about half a million US dollars. Until next post, then.