As thousands of his supporters get arrested throughout the country, Aleksei Navalny appears in the courtroom again.
Credit: Associated Press

Last June, Russia’s Investigative Committee launched a probe into Aleksei Navalny on charges of defamation. The politician labelled those featured in a video, promoting an extension to President Vladimir Putin’s rule, as “corrupt stooges” and “traitors”, PA reported.

Navalny faces a fine of up to a million roubles (£9,760) or community service of up to 240 hours. This is on top of Tuesday’s sentence of two years and eight months in prison. The hearing started at 10am this morning but was postponed to February 12 after 8 hours of hearings. Navalny was against the postponement, Meduza reports.

The victim, a 94-year-old WWII veteran, Ignat Artemenko was supposed to testify via conference call but asked to stop the interrogation because of poor health.

During an intermission at 12 pm, Navalny told journalists that “now they will announce that Artemenko was ‘taken away by an ambulance'”. A few minutes later, an ambulance was called for the veteran, according to TASS.

The politician has called the new hearing a “disgusting PR trial” intended by the Kremlin to discredit him.

Navalny’s arrest and jailing triggered massive protests across Russia, in which tens of thousands took to the streets to demand his release. Thousands of protesters have been detained.

Meanwhile, EU Foreign Affairs Chief Josep Borrell met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, with new EU sanctions being a possibility.

After the meeting, Borrell said he had relayed to Lavrov his concerns over Navalny’s jailing and the arrests of thousands of people. He also communicated the bloc’s support for Navalny’s release and an investigation of the August poisoning, the BBC reported.

“While we fully respect Russian sovereignty… the European Union considers issues related to the rule of law, human rights, civil society, and political freedom are central to our common future,” Borrell said.