Russian authorities have opened a defamation case against Alexei Navalny, after he called a World War II veteran a “traitor” for expressing his support for Russia’s proposed constitutional changes.
The protest leader has been accused of posting “deliberately false information” by the Russian Investigative Committee, and he is said to have “pursued the goal of spreading slander among a wide range of people.”
On June 2, the nationalist Kremlin critic shared a video published by RT which featured various Russian people – including an Olympian, a doctor, and a mother. In the clip, the participants shared their personal reasons for voting in favor of the new constitution. One of the featured heroes was war veteran Ignat Artemenko.
In a tweet, Navalny called the people in the video “traitors.”
“Oh, here they are, darlings. I must admit that the team of corrupt lackeys looks rather weak. Look at them: this is the shame of the country. People without a conscience. Traitors.”
According to Artemenko’s grandson Igor Kolesnikov, the veteran had to call an ambulance following Navalny’s comments, and he was diagnosed with coronary heart disease.
Despite widespread criticism about Navalny’s choice of words, some of his supporters will suggest that he is being selectively targeted, and the latest case is just another in a long line of accusations levelled at him.
If found guilty, the protest leader could face a fine of up to a million rubles ($14,300) or up to 240 hours of community service.
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