Kirovles back in the news

Alexey Navalny and Pyotr Ofitserov had their prison terms suspended earlier this week. The trial court in Kirov sentenced them to five and four years initially; the Kirov Oblast court, acting as a court of appeal in this case, ordered the sentences reduced to probation.

What does it mean? Well, ask a Kremlinologist. There’s little doubt both the original and the reduced sentences were dictated from Moscow. There was a trial. Imperfect and biased, with defense motions mostly denied. But witnesses were summoned, questioned and cross-examined so there was some fact-finding, and the facts spoke “not guilty.” But the judge probably had the sentence written before the trial began, like some countries have election results out before voting starts.

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