To humiliate and insult: what can turn out to be Navalny’s barbs in court

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The second session of the trial of Alexei Navalny in the case of libel against the veteran of the Great Patriotic War Ignat Artyomenko again dragged on for a whole day. The accused flatly apologized for calling the liberator of the country from the Nazis “lackey” and “traitor.” Moreover, this time the blogger seemed to decide that he was not being judged, but he was. He received over two dozen reprimands for taunting the plaintiffs, the prosecutor and even the judge. At the hearing, witnesses, experts, the accused spoke, six volumes of the case were read, but it never came close to a denouement. However, Alexei Navalny still admitted that his comment on the video about the amendments to the Constitution can be regarded as an insult.


A week later, the Babushkinsky court has approximately the same picture as on February 5. Cars with diplomatic numbers – representatives of the EU, in particular Latvia and Estonia, and journalists arrived. The wife of Alexei Navalny did not come to support him, the day before she left the country and flew to Germany.

The blogger, who is accused of libel in relation to the veteran of the Great Patriotic War, was taken to court from the pre-trial detention center, where he is being held after a verdict in the Yves Rocher case. Ignat Artyomenko was not present at the hearing this time. He submitted a written statement.

“I felt bad, the defendant’s insults continue to me, I refuse to further participate in this criminal case,” the prosecutor read out the notarized statement of Ignat Artemenko. “I am afraid to die of emotional stress as a result of the insults that Navalny makes against me.”

After the harsh statements of the defendant during the last meeting, the veteran needed an ambulance. The therapist who examined him also reported about the serious condition of the victim.

“I came on call, the veteran was under strong pressure against the background of emotional stress,” Sarkhan Kichibekov, a doctor from the Moscow Region polyclinic, told the court.

According to investigators, on June 2 last year, the blogger posted a video on social networks in which veteran Ignat Artemenko expressed his position in support of amendments to the Constitution of the Russian Federation. In his commentary on the video, Alexei Navalny called all the filming participants “corrupt lackeys” and “traitors”. After that, the condition of the 93-year-old veteran, who liberated his country from the Nazis as part of the 2nd Belorussian Front, worsened.

Above background

The last meeting, during which the blogger continued to pour insults, ended with the questioning of the veteran’s grandson Igor Kolesnikov. As soon as today’s hearing began, it became clear that the tonality would remain the same.

– Before you, the merchant grandfather, I will not apologize, – said the defendant Kolesnikov. The blogger this time did not restrain himself in relation to the judge Vera Akimova. At the meeting, he asked permission to call her “Obersturmbannfuehrer”. Ignat Artemenko, in his words, is a “doll”.

– It is absolutely unbelievable to what moral fall a person can sink by insulting such people. However, Navalny insulted not only the veteran. He hates our past, which means the present and the future, killing, in fact, the moral foundation of the younger generation, – said Mikhail Myagkov, scientific director of the Russian Military Historical Society. – Navalny’s tactics at the trial is to delay the process, attract the attention of the media, Western diplomats, and create noise. In general, this is aimed at creating an image of a hero for yourself. What kind of hero is he?

Mikhail Myagkov, I am sure that without people like Ignat Artemenko, we certainly would not have won. However, the facts from the veteran’s biography, which were read out by the prosecutor, not only did not impress the defendant, but also seemed to hurt.

Navalny’s defense demanded the dismissal of the judge, citing the fact that she was not impartial.

– I support the challenge, I believe that you need to stop being dishonored and organize a political theater, and take some courses to better know the laws, – said the blogger.

The challenge was rejected. Such tactics of the defense side increases the emotional background of the proceedings, Dmitry Uvarov, a member of the Russian Lawyers’ Association, explained in an interview with Izvestia.

– In such high-profile trials, judges are usually ready for the maximum degree of confrontation. The judges are quite calm about the occasional challenge. There are also several such motions in one court session. Nevertheless, even with such a strategy, the court’s decision does not go beyond the predictable, – he said.

The recusal of a judge does nothing to mitigate the punishment. Moreover, this petition may have negative consequences, since in its content one can see an insult to the judge, said lawyer and public figure Ilya Remeslo. After the end of the case, the court may issue a private ruling to the Bar Chamber and ask to check the actions of lawyers for compliance with the law. And to Navalny himself, such statements may be responded in the form of an additional case of insulting the court.

– In all likelihood, the petition for the disqualification of the judge is due to the fact that the lawyers do not have substantial evidence of the innocence of their client, and they do not try to justify him in essence, apparently, they simply have nothing to say, – he believes.

Dozens of comments

The main formal dispute at the meeting boiled down to the question of who wrote the statement to the Investigative Committee. After examining the documents shown by the court, the veteran’s grandson Igor Kolesnikov confirmed that the signature on the statement belongs to Ignat Artyomenko.

Several other people claim authorship of the statement. Lawyer and public figure Ilya Remeslo also claims that he applied to the Investigative Committee. The witness Alexei Lukin also sent a statement there.

– In relation to a veteran of the Great Patriotic War, the word “traitor” cannot be said at all. Therefore, I wrote a statement to the Investigative Committee. I don’t know Ignat Artemenko and his relatives, – said the witness.

The prosecutor in the libel case is Yekaterina Frolova, the prosecutor of the criminal justice department of the Moscow prosecutor’s office. She also represented the state prosecution when Alexei Navalny was replaced by a suspended sentence with a real one in the Yves Rocher case. On Friday it became known that the Moscow City Court will consider the complaint on this decision on February 20.

During the meeting, all six volumes of the criminal case against the defendant were read out. And senior expert-linguist of the UK Albina Glotova was asked to define the comment that Navalny addressed to the participants in the video. She noted that the words “lackeys”, “traitors” and “shame” in the blogger’s remark to the video with the veteran carry a derogatory meaning towards those to whom they are addressed.

The defendant himself said that his words could be an insult, but not slander: “I did not know any Artemenko. I said my attitude. These were value judgments. “

He noted that he expressed his attitude to the company for the adoption of amendments to the Constitution, and not to individuals. When asked by the prosecutor about whether he drew attention to the fact that the participants in the video are different people, he replied: the gender and age of the participants, as well as their merits, were not important for him.

– Navalny’s assessment has negative information, but it is conveyed in the form of judgments. The comments do not convey facts and cannot be checked for compliance with reality, says Anton Baranov, an employee of the Institute of the Russian Language of the Russian Academy of Sciences, who spoke on the part of the defense.

Apparently, the lawyers believe that the insults heard at the court session do not convey the facts. However, in total, the blogger received over two dozen comments in a few hours.

Not just a word

All this farce for two full-fledged court sessions might not have happened if Alexey Navalny had simply apologized to the veteran, says Maria Spiridonova, managing partner of LEGES BURO. In her opinion, this would have been enough for the injured party, and the proceedings would have ended in reconciliation of the parties.

– But the initiative must come from the accused. The initiator of reconciliation is always a person seeking to be exempted from criminal liability, the expert noted.

The blogger’s lawyer Olga Mikhailova, even before the hearing, told reporters that her client was charged with a public accusation and that reconciliation and apology would not be enough to terminate the case.

“The intolerance that often spills over into the public with respect to individuals, certain social groups, pursues a very simple goal: to lead as many people as possible with aggression and anger,” says Vladimir Rudakov, editor-in-chief of the “Historian” magazine. – But, even in pursuit of political goals, one cannot cross the line. After all, a different word can not only injure a person, but also push other people to reckless, and sometimes illegal acts.

In his opinion, insulting statements towards people, especially the elderly, are not the most successful way of promotion for a person who wants to get into politics: he should unite people and respect them, and not bump their heads together and insult.

“I think that, of course, it would be more correct to apologize to a very elderly and well-deserved person and not stir up hysteria further,” noted Vladimir Rudakov. – Ignat Artemenko, speaking in the video about the amendments to the Constitution, only expressed his position, it turns out that he received insults only because he openly expressed it.

On February 12, the director of the foreign intelligence service, Sergei Naryshkin, said that those who deliberately insult veterans place themselves on a par with Nazi accomplices. Representatives of the Latvian Association of Anti-Hitler Coalition Fighters (LAKSA) and the Association of Juvenile Concentration Camp Prisoners held a picket outside the Russian Embassy in Riga. And although the diplomats of this country provide open support to Alexei Navalny, the participants of this action appealed with an appeal to apologize to Ignat Artemenko, reports Sputnik Latvia.

However, this process will not significantly affect the attitude of the blogger’s supporters towards him. They consider Navalny to be sinless, political analyst Dmitry Fetisov believes.

In this case, a fine of up to a million rubles or compulsory work may be imposed as a punishment for defamation, says Artur Airapetov, a member of the Moscow Chamber of Lawyers.

– But most often the practice comes down to the fact that this article is punished with a ruble. The amount of the fine depends on the circumstances. In particular, on the nature of slander, characteristics of the person who is being punished.

In this case, the citizen was convicted under other articles, so the punishment may be maximum, the lawyer admits. The court will meet again on February 16.