A Moscow court suspended a libel case against Alexei Navalny on Monday afternoon due to the opposition figure's poor health condition, a Sputnik correspondent has learned.
"Criminal proceedings have been ordered suspended," the court said in its decision, citing Navalny's status as in hospital and ill. According to the court, proceedings will resume once he recovers.
The court also retained an order against the political figure not to leave the country under his own recognizance, notwithstanding the fact that he is now in Germany in a comatose state.
Navalny had a criminal investigation opened against him earlier this year over suspected libel on social media against a veteran of the Second World War who was featured in a promotional clip urging Russians to vote in favour of constitutional reforms.
In a June 2 tweet, Navalny posted the video and called people expressing support for the constitutional changes, including a cosmonaut, sports champions, actors, businessmen, a doctor, a military officer, a mother and the veteran "the shame of our country" and "traitors."
Ignat Artemenko, the 93-year-old veteran featured in the clip, took Navalny to court over the remarks. If convicted, Navalny could face a fine of up to one year's income or up to 240 hours of community service.
German medics are expected to release a statement on Navalny's condition later on Monday.
Navalny has long been a staple of Russia's liberal opposition, and is arguably the best known Russian opposition figure in the West. In addition to organizing meetings and anti-government demonstrations, the politician and his organization, the 'Anti-Corruption Foundation' (Russian acronym FBK), has created dozens of videos exposing alleged corruption by high-profile officials and businessmen. FBK was declared a foreign agent by the Justice Ministry in October 2019, and announced that it would be shutting down in July due to a defamation case by Russian restaurateur Yevgeny Prigozhin. Navalny has several convictions against him, including money laundering and embezzlement, and a 2014 fine for libel after calling a district councillor a "drug addict" on Twitter. In 2017, FBK was forced to edit one of its videos after oligarch Alisher Usmanov sued Navalny for libel following a bitter online exchange.