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Navalny's Request To Cancel His Status Of 'Inclined To Escape' Rejected

Aleksei Navalny and his supporters contend that his return to Russia of his own will, knowing that he likely faced imprisonment, shows he has no intention of fleeing.

The Moscow City Court has rejected a request by imprisoned opposition leader Aleksei Navalny to annul his designation as being as a "flight risk," which subjects him to hourly nighttime checks while he is incarcerated at a penal colony.

The court on August 17 upheld previous lower-court rulings backing a decision by Moscow's Matrosskaya Tishina detention center in February to label the outspoken Kremlin critic a person inclined to escape.

In late May, Navalny asked a court in the Vladimir region, where he is serving his prison term, to halt the nighttime checks, saying the measure amounted to "torture."

The court rejected his appeal at the time. Navalny's lawyers then turned to Moscow's Preobrazhensky district court, requesting the status be removed. That court also rejected Navalny's request on June 25.

Navalny, one of Russian President Vladimir Putin's most vocal critics, was arrested in January upon his return from Germany, where he had spent five months recovering from a nerve-agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin --an accusation that Russian officials reject.

He is serving a 2 1/2-year prison sentence on embezzlement charges that he says were trumped up because of his political activities.

After his arrest, Navalny was labeled a flight risk, which he and his supporters challenged, saying that his return to Russia of his own will, knowing that he likely faced imprisonment, showed he had no intention of fleeing.

The opposition leader went on a 24-day hunger strike in prison to protest a lack of medical treatment for severe back pain and numbness in his legs, ending it in April after getting the medical attention he demanded.

With reporting by TASS and Interfax
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