Europe’s top human rights court ruled on Tuesday that Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s conviction for fraud in 2014 had been “arbitrary and manifestly unreasonable” and ordered Russia to pay him compensation. “We have won. Thanks everyone for support,” tweeted Navalny, a campaigner against corruption among Russia’s elite who hopes to run against Vladimir Putin in a March election. Putin is widely expected to seek and win a fourth term as president. Russian authorities have three months to decide whether to appeal against the ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), the TASS news agency cited Russia’s deputy justice minister and ECHR representative Mikhail Galperin as saying.
“We proved that this case was a fabricated one, and that this ugly buffoonery in the court room in 2014 had nothing to do with a fair legal proceeding,” Navalny wrote on his website, www.navalny.com, after the court announced its ruling.
A suspended jail sentence in a separate case — which Navalny says was politically motivated — may still bar him from running for president.
The Strasbourg-based ECHR said Navalny and his brother Oleg’s convictions for fraud and money laundering were based on an unforeseeable application of criminal law and that the proceedings were arbitrary and unfair.