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Navalny's Tweets Of Defiance

Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny listens to the verdict being read at a court in Kirov on July 18.

Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny listens to the verdict being read at a court in Kirov on July 18.

It took over three hours for a judge in the Russian city of Kirov to read Aleksei Navalny’s full sentence after finding him guilty of embezzlement.

The courtroom scene was a familiar one to those who have followed trials of opposition figures in Russia. The judge speed-read through reams of text, while spectators -- defendants, the families, journalists -- occupied their time by tapping away on their mobile phones.

Navalny’s own live-tweeting of the proceedings ruthlessly mocked the court with characteristic satire.

"To put hipsters on trial is only to ruin the trial," says one tweet that Navalny seemed to like and which he retweeted.

Many, including Navalny, grew restless as the reading of the verdict continued for hours. "There’s still a huge pile of paper, we’ll be here for a while," Navalny complained.

Navalny said people should cease the despairing Tweets, recommending that they take a cue from "the Joker."

Posting a photo of a grinning Russian President Vladimir Putin, Navalny added, "it seems it's only me and [Putin] aren't so sad about the verdict."

Sergei Blinov, the baby-faced judge, had been mocked by the opposition throughout the proceedings as a government stooge. Navalny retweeted this photoshopped picture of him reading the verdict.

Navalny seemed almost as concerned about his ability to tweet as about the upcoming sentence. At one point he expressed "horror" that his battery was about to die.

When the sentence was finally passed -- five years in a prison colony -- Navalny tweeted one last time from court, calling on followers to continue their activism while he began his new life in a prison colony. The opposition is organizing a protest near the Kremlin in Moscow tonight. "It's OK. Try not to miss me," he said. "And most of all, don't be lazy. The toad won't leave the oil pipeline by itself."

-- Glenn Kates

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