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The Navalny case and Russia’s challenge to the European Court of Human Rights

By reconvicting the Russian liberal activist Alexey Navalny in a case where the European Court of Human RIghts had set aside his previous conviction, the Russian authorities are issuing a challenge to the European Court of Human Rights.

Alexander Mercouris

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The fact that a Russian court has for the second time convicted the Russian liberal opposition activist Alexey Navalny of embezzlement in a case involving the Kirovles timber company represents a head-on challenge by the Russians to the European Court of Human Rights.

I researched the Navalny/Kirovles case exhaustively at the time of Navalny’s first conviction in 2013.  I concluded that he was almost certainly guilty as charged, and I have held to that view ever since.  In fact I could not see anything particularly special about the case, which looked to me like a straightforward case of theft, which was supported by a mountain of evidence.  Anyone who wants to plough through my detailed and at times very technical discussion of the case can find it here.

The European Court of Human Rights however ruled otherwise, and in a painstaking Judgment that seemed to me to go to extraordinary lengths to find technical grounds to say that Navalny’s trial was unfair, found in his favour.  (PDf versions of this Judgment can be easily found on the internet by googling “Navalnyy versus Russia”).

Suffice to say that the grounds for claiming that the trial was unfair – which mainly related to the use in the trial of the evidence of the lead prosecution witness – place such a high bar that I doubt that many trials in any country would meet them, and do not to my mind show unfairness, whilst other parts of the Judgment read more like a newspaper column than a reasoned court Judgment.

That the Russians were clearly angered by this Judgment is shown by the decision they subsequently took.  Instead of simply setting Navalny’s conviction aside, they decided to retry him on the same charge.  Tried on the same law and on the same facts, Navalny has – predictably enough – once more been convicted on the same charge for the same offence, and has received the same sentence.

I have no doubt that the Russians saw the Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights as politicised.  In my lengthy discussion of Navalny’s case I set out the steps the Russian authorities took to make his trial as ECHR compliant as possible.  Not only was Navalny allowed to question the witnesses at extravagant length but all his arguments were carefully considered and the prosecution (rather than his own lawyers) even appealed the Judge’s decision to send him to prison after his conviction when he was actually entitled to bail.  Moreover the one part of the case that baffled me and where political interference was manifest – the decision to give Navalny a suspended sentence rather than a prison sentence for what was by any objective measure a serious crime – looks with hindsight like an attempt to delay proceedings in the European Court of Human Rights until after Russia’s two highest courts – the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court – had been given an opportunity to review the case.

In the event not only did the European Court of Human Rights still say Navalny’s trial was unfair, but despite the fact that he was only given a suspended sentence and was not sent to prison, it decided to prioritise his case, thereby ousting the Russian Supreme Court and the Russian Constitutional Court from reviewing it.

I have recently discussed the steps the Russians are taking to limit the European Court of Human Rights’ ability to meddle in their court cases.  One particular issue which they are known to have raised in discussions with the President of the European Court of Human Rights was the question of its ‘prioritising’ Russian cases (like Navalny’s) when there are no grounds to do so.  At the same time the Russians have continued to take a conciliatory line, saying that they still value the European Court of Human Rights and wish to remain within its jurisdiction.

It is not difficult to see the nature of the challenge that is now being made.  With the European Court of Human Rights having declared Navalny’s previous trial unfair, the Russians are now daring it to do the same now that they have re-convicted him for the same offence, with the implicit threat that they may reconsider accepting its jurisdiction if it persists in acting in what they see as a hostile and politicised way.

For the European Court of Human Rights this is a big challenge.  With Britain now saying that it will withdraw from its jurisdiction, and with Turkey implicitly threatening to do so with its talk of reintroducing the death penalty, the European Court of Human Rights does not want to lose Russia, and see the territory that accepts its jurisdiction shrink even further.

The President of the European Court of Human Rights recently travelled to Russia and it is known that he held confidential discussions there.  How the European Court of Human Rights responds to Russia’s challenge in Navalny’s case will show whether or not following those discussions the European Court of Human Rights is prepared to compromise.

Lastly, before ending this discussion about Navalny I want to address one particular claim he has been making today, which the Western media has picked up.

Navalny’s latest conviction has nothing to do with the 2018 Russian Presidential election.  Not only does it seem that a suspended sentence – such as the one Navalny has again received – does not disqualify a candidate from standing in that election, but the 0.70% of the vote that Parnas – the party most closely identified with Navalny – received in the recent Duma elections shows that he is not remotely a credible candidate.

In my opinion the case just brought against Navalny is no longer really about him.  Such political credibility as he might have had back in 2013 has long gone, and I doubt anyone in Moscow really cares about the Kirovles case anymore.

Rather it is Russia’s relationship with the European Court of Human Rights which is now the issue.  Unsurprisingly that is not something I expect most Western commentators to report on or even understand.

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James Woods Suspended From Twitter Over Satirical Meme That Could “Impact An Election”

James Woods crushes Jack Dorsey: “You are a coward, @Jack.”

Alex Christoforou

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Via Zerohedge


Outspoken conservative actor James Woods was suspended from posting to Twitter over a two-month-old satirical meme which very clearly parodies a Democratic advertisement campaign. While the actor’s tweets are still visible, he is unable to post new content.

The offending tweet from July 20, features three millennial-aged men with “nu-male smiles” and text that reads “We’re making a Woman’s Vote Worth more by staying home.” Above it, Woods writes “Pretty scary that there is a distinct possibility this could be real. Not likely, but in this day and age of absolute liberal insanity, it is at least possible.”

According to screenshots provided by an associate of Woods’, Twitter directed the actor to delete the post on the grounds that it contained “text and imagery that has the potential to be misleading in a way that could impact an election.

In other words, James Woods, who has approximately 1.72 million followers, was suspended because liberals who don’t identify as women might actually take the meme seriously and not vote. 

In a statement released through associate Sara Miller, Woods said “You are a coward, @Jack,” referring to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. “There is no free speech for Conservatives on @Twitter.

Earlier this month, Woods opined on the mass-platform ban of Alex Jones, tweeting: ““I’ve never read Alex Jones nor watched any of his video presence on the internet. A friend told me he was an extremist. Believe me that I know nothing about him. That said, I think banning him from the internet is a slippery slope. This is the beginning of real fascism. Trust me.”

Nu-males everywhere non-threateningly smirk at Woods’ bad fortune…

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Another witness named by Ford becomes third person to deny being at party

A woman believed to have been one of five people at a party 35 years ago where Ford claims she was assaulted by Kavanaugh is now the fourth person to deny being at any such party.

The Duran

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Via The Washington Examiner


A witness, reportedly named by Christine Blasey Ford as one of the people at the high school party where Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh allegedly sexually assaulted her, told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Saturday she was not there.

The attorney for Leland Ingham Keyser told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Keyser does not remember being at the party Ford described as the location of the alleged assault.

“Ms. Keyser does not know Mr. Kavanaugh and she has no recollection of ever being at a party or gathering where he was present, with, or without, Dr. Ford,” Keyser said in the statement. CNN reported Keyser is a lifelong friend of Ford’s.

Keyser, whom the New York Times reported is one of the people Ford named as being in attendance at the party, is the third witness who has denied knowing about the alleged assault. Mark Judge and Patrick Smyth said earlier this week they did not remember the party in question.

Kavanaugh has denied Ford’s allegation.

The news comes after Ford, through her attorneys, tentatively agreed to testify on Thursday, after days of negotiations over the timing and conditions of her

Committee chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, had repeatedly extended deadlines set for Ford’s team on the decision, including three on Friday and one at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Grassley threatened to proceed with a committee vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination Monday if he did not hear from Ford.

“Five times now we [have] granted extension for Dr Ford to decide if she wants to proceed [with] her desire stated one [week] ago that she wants to tell senate her story,” Grassley tweeted Friday. “Dr Ford if u changed ur mind say so so we can move on I want to hear ur testimony. Come to us or we to u.”

The extended discussions have been labeled a delaying tactic by some Republicans.

Ford’s attorneys and Grassley’s aides will reportedly continue negotiations Sunday on the details of the conditions of Ford’s testimony, per the New York Times.

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Was NYT Story About Rosenstein ‘Coup Attempt’ A Setup?

The New York Times is reporting that Rod Rosenstein pushed a plan to record President Trump and invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office.

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Via Zerohedge


Is the FBI trying to goad President Trump into firing the man in charge of supervising the Mueller probe? That’s what Sean Hannity and a handful of  Trump’s Congressional allies think.

According to a report in Politico, Republicans in Congress are approaching a story about Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein attempting to organize a palace coup with extreme caution, despite having twice nearly gathered the votes to remove him in the recent past.

On Friday, the NYT reported a bombshell story alleging that Rosenstein had tried to recruit administration officials to secretly tape conversations with the president in order to help justify removing Trump under the 25th amendment. Rosenstein vehemently denied the story, which was largely based on confidential memos written by former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe. And others who were reportedly in attendance at meeting between McCabe and Rosenstein said the Deputy AG was being “sarcastic” when he suggested that the president be taped.

Meanwhile, Trump allies including Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan and Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz are saying that the story should be treated with suspicion. Jordan and Freedom Caucus leader Mark Meadows once filed articles of impeachment against Rosenstein. But now, both Meadows and Jordan intend to proceed with caution, telling Politico that he would like to see the memos that the story was based on.

House Freedom Caucus leaders Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan, who led a charge to impeach Rosenstein this summer, have said they want to hear from Rosenstein and see documents allegedly describing the comments before they decide what to do.That’s awarded Rosenstein a courtesy they’ve never given him in the past.

“I think Rod needs to come before Congress this week and explain under oath what exactly he said and didn’t say,” Meadows said at the Values Voters Summit Saturday.

The newfound hesitation to oust Rosenstein highlights a cautious approach Trump allies have adopted as the Republican party barrels toward a potential bloodbath in the midterms. Some Republicans fear Trump firing Rosenstein now would only further energize Democrats making the case to voters that the president is corrupt and needs to be reined in by a Democratic House.

[…]

In a Friday interview, Jordan, one of Rosenstein’s fiercest critics in Congress, sidestepped questions about whether the House should revisit Rosenstein’s impeachment or try to hold him in contempt of Congress. Rather, he said, a more focused push to obtain sensitive documents from the Justice Department — which Trump’s allies say would expose anti-Trump bias and corruption the FBI — is the most urgent priority.

“I want to see those memos and evaluate them,” said Jordan, who has clashed publicly with Rosenstein over access to documents and accused him of threatening House Intelligence Committee staffers, an allegation Rosenstein denied.

Politico cites two possible explanations for lawmakers’ hesitation: Republicans are running out of time before members devote themselves full-time to their reelection campaigns. Republicans are worried that the story could have been intentionally planted to provoke Rosenstein’s firing in order to improve Democrats’ chances of retaking the Senate AND the House (Trump actively moving to crush the Mueller probe would be quite the propaganda win for the Dems).

Sean Hannity took this latter theory a step further during his show on Friday evening, where he urged Trump not to fire Rosie and instead insisted that the story could have been a “trap”. He added that he had been told by “multiple sources” that the story was planted by unspecified “enemies of Trump.”

“I have a message for the president tonight,” Hannity said Friday night. “Under zero circumstances should the president fire anybody…the president needs to know it is all a setup.”

Still, a handful of conservative commentators, including Laura Ingraham, urged Trump to fire Rosenstein immediately. And for Trump’s part, he hinted at a rally Friday night in Missouri that he planned to “get rid” of the “lingering stench” at the DOJ, which many interpreted as a hint that his firing is imminent.

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