MOSCOW (REUTERS) - A Russian prosecutor on Tuesday (Feb 16) asked a Moscow court to fine opposition figure Alexei Navalny 950,000 rubles (S$17,100) for allegedly defaming a 94-year-old veteran.
The prosecution also asked for a three-and-a-half year suspended sentence Navalny received in 2014 to be converted into real jail time as the alleged defamation occurred during the suspended sentence.
Another Moscow court earlier this month already converted the suspended sentence to jail time over Navalny allegedly violating the terms of the suspended sentence while recovering from a poisoning attack in Germany.
The West has condemned the case and is discussing possible sanctions on Russia.
In the slander case, Navalny stands accused of defaming a World War Two veteran who took part in a promotional video backing constitutional reforms last year that let Putin run for two more terms in the Kremlin after 2024 if he wants.
Navalny described the people in the video as traitors and corrupt lackeys. He accuses authorities of using the slander charges to smear his reputation. His lawyer Olga Mikhailova insisted the charges were "contrived and arbitrary".
Veterans of what Moscow calls the Great Patriotic War are revered by most Russians and criticism of them is regarded as socially unacceptable and insulting. State prosecutors were expected later on Tuesday to tell the court what punishment they are seeking for Navalny, state media reported.
Although the slander charge, if proven, is punishable by up to two years in jail, his lawyer has said that Navalny cannot face a custodial sentence in this instance because the alleged crime was committed before the law was changed to make it a jailable offence.
After the final arguments were delivered, the judge adjourned the hearing to February 20. It remains unclear whether the judge in the case agrees with that analysis. Lesser punishments include a fine or community service.
Navalny's arrest and jailing sparked nationwide street protests in Russia, but his allies say they have paused serious demonstrations until the spring.