A Moscow appeal court on Saturday upheld a prison sentence imposed on Alexei Navalny after he returned to Russian Federation from Germany following a poisoning attack, shortening his almost three-year jail term by just 1.5 months. "There is no law in Russian Federation right now", staff at Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation, who investigate alleged official corruption, wrote on Twitter.
The Kremlin's most prominent opponent Alexei Navalny faced two court decisions on Saturday that could seal a judge's ruling to jail him for several years, after he returned to Russian Federation following a poisoning attack.
Speaking before the verdict, Mr Navalny referenced the Bible as well as Harry Potter and the animated sitcom Rick and Morty as he urged Russians to resist pressure from the authorities and challenge the Kremlin to build a fairer and more prosperous country.
According to the Sputnik correspondent, this means the opposition figure will spend approximately 2.5 years behind bars, as he has missed almost 60 check-ins with the authorities during the last three years and also received multiple minor penalties. His lawyer said on Saturday he would now spend a little over 2-1/2 years behind bars and that his legal team would try to challenge the decision to reject his appeal.
Mr Navalny responded sarcastically to the ruling. Тhe court on Saturday reduced that sentence by two months.
Navalny, 44, an anti-corruption crusader and President Vladimir Putin's most vocal critic, appealed the prison sentence and asked to be released.
He said he had been unable to report to the Moscow prison service previous year because he had been convalescing in Germany at the time.
"I don't want to show off a lot, but the whole world knew where I was", Mr Navalny told the judge. "And sooner or later they'll get it".
The Moscow City Court's ruling came even as the country faced a top European rights court's order to free the Kremlin's most prominent foe.
Asked about the impact of Navalny's prison sentence on Russia's politics, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that the country's "rich and multifaceted" political scene will develop regardless of the verdict.
Navalny appeared in court again later on Saturday for the culmination of a separate slander trial against him.
The ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that was posted on Navalny's website on Wednesday demands that Russian Federation set him free immediately and warns that failing to do so would mark a breach of the European human rights convention.
Prosecutors in a separate trial have called for him to be fined the equivalent of $13,000 for calling a World War II veteran a "traitor" on Twitter past year, with a verdict also expected Saturday.
Navalny described the people in the video as traitors and corrupt lackeys. Russian authorities might now use that provision to reject the ECHR's ruling.
State prosecutors have asked the court to fine Navalny 950,000 roubles ($16,300) for slander.
The court is expected to announce its decision at 1500 GMT.
The arrest sparked large protests across the county that saw more than 10,000 people detained, while the European Union threatened to impose new sanctions on Russian Federation.
"We have seen the rejection of a mass (street protest) movement and a transition to candle-lit gatherings, and now absolutely nothing", he said on Ekho Moskvy radio station.
Mr Navalny accuses Mr Putin of ordering his attempted murder.
The discussion follows a controversial visit by European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell earlier in February, which saw Russia expel three European Union diplomats for allegedly taking part in a pro-Navalny rally while the EU's top diplomat was still on Russian soil.