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Alexey Navalny Remains in Jail as Court Rejects His Appeal. Then He’s Fined $11,500 in Defamation Case

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Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny will remain behind bars after a Russian court partially rejected his appeal over a two-and-a-half year jail sentence handed down earlier this month.

Then, in a separate case also heard on Saturday, Navalny was found guilty of defaming a World War II veteran and fined 850,000 rubles ($11,480).

In the morning ruling — held at Babushkinsky District Court but handed down by Moscow City Court — the judge shortened the activist’s sentence by a month and a half, after taking into account time he spent under house arrest from December 2014 to February 2015.

Navalny’s lawyer Olga Mikhailova petitioned the court to release her client immediately, as demanded by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

The court handed down the original sentence on February 2, after ruling that while Navalny was in Germany, he violated probation terms from a 2014 case in which he had received a suspended sentence of three and a half years.

The suspended sentence was then replaced with a prison term.

Navalny was initially detained by the Russian state in January following his arrival from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from Novichok poisoning he blamed on the Russian government. The Kremlin has repeatedly denied any involvement.

Mikhailova argued that Navalny’s life and health were in danger while in detention.

Guilty of defamation, court rules

At a separate hearing at Babushkinsky District Court later on Saturday, Navalny was convicted of defaming a World War II veteran, a charge he dismissed as politically motivated.

The case related to comments Navalny made last June on social media. He criticized a video broadcast by state TV channel RT, in which various prominent figures expressed support for controversial changes to the Russian constitution. Veteran Ignat Artemenko, 94, was among those supporters. Navalny was accused of defaming the veteran.

The constitutional changes, which were backed in a July 1 referendum, paved the way for Russian President Vladimir Putin to stay in office until 2036, despite having already ruled the country for two decades.

“Navalny knew for sure that the information he had disseminated was false and defamed reputation,” the judge, Vera Akimova, said Saturday.

In December 2020, the penalty for defamation was changed to include potential jail time. But at the time of Navalny’s alleged offense, those found guilty could only be fined up to a million rubles (about $13,300) or ordered to carry out community service.

Navalny’s treatment has prompted mass protests across Russia and condemnation from Western leaders.



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The Wire publishes fake news on new guidelines for digital media sites

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Left-wing propaganda site The Wire was once against caught peddling fake news, this time on the newly announced guidelines under the IT Act for digital media outlets. However, their lie was fact-checked by Press Information Bureau’s Fact Check arm. PIB refuted The Wire’s claim that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting constituted the panel over sighting the content’s self-regulation.

PIB said, “The body would be constituted by publishers & not MIB or a panel by MIB. It can be headed by a retired SC/HC judge or an eminent person.”

What did The Wire say?

In its report titled “Why the New IT Rules Beg Urgent Judicial Review”, The Wire claimed “Rules 10, 11 and 12 require intermediaries to establish a two-tier “self-regulation” mechanism and be subject to an “oversight” mechanism by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MI&B).”

It further added, “while the body constituted at the second level of the self-regulating mechanism is being touted to be independent, in reality, it does away with all notions of independence as such a body is to be headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court or a high court-appointed from a panel prepared by the MI&B. The intermediary rules are silent on the modalities of the constitution of such a panel. This allows the MI&B to appoint partisan retired judges to head such a body.”

What do Rule 10, 11 and 12 of Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 say?

As per the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 [PDF] Rule 10 talks about the furnishing and processing of the grievance related to the content published by a publisher. It makes it essential that the grievance is disposed of in 15 days. In case the publisher fails to address the resentment of the complainant is not satisfied with the action taken by the publisher, the self-regulating body will come into action. The self-regulating body has to take the decision in 15 days, and if the complainant is still not satisfied, he can further appeal to the oversight mechanism set up by the MI&B.

Rule 10 of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021

Rule 11 talks about the rules laid down for the appointment of the grievance officer. The grievance officer must be based in India. His name and contact information must be available on the website. He will act as the nodal point of interaction between the complainant, self-regulating body and the Ministry.

Rule 11 of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021

Rule 12 talks about the formation of the self-regulating body. It clearly states that the publishers will form a self-regulating body. The retired judge of the Supreme Court, a High Court, or an independent eminent person from the field of media, broadcasting, entertainment, child rights, human rights or such other relevant field will head it.

Rule 12 of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021

The oversight mechanism

As per Rule 13, there will be an oversight mechanism under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The oversight mechanism will only come into action if the complainant is not satisfied with the decision of the self-regulating body. Until that point, the Ministry will not interfere in the grievance redressal mechanism.

The Rule 12 make it clear that the publishers will form a self-regulating body, and they will select the retired judge to head it. Therefore, the claim made by The Wire that MI&B will have the power to choose the members and head of the self-regulatory committee is false.



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