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Navalny's Request To Cancel His Status As 'Flight Risk' Rejected

Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny speaks via video link from prison during a court session in the Vladimir region on May 31.

A court in Russia's Vladimir region has rejected imprisoned opposition leader Aleksei Navalny's request to annul his designated status as a "flight risk," which subjects him to hourly nighttime checks while he is incarcerated at a penal colony.

The court ruled on June 2 that Navalny's right to have eight hours of uninterrupted sleep each night had not been violated by guards at Correctional Colony No. 2.

Navalny's lawyer, Vadim Kobzev, said the ruling will be appealed.

On May 31, Navalny asked the court to halt the nighttime checks, saying the measure amounted to "torture," and that "you would go mad in a week" if subjected to such treatment.

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 -- accusations 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 he returned to Russia from Germany on 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.

During the hunger strike, Navalny was moved from the penal colony east of Moscow where he was serving his sentence to the hospital ward of another prison in Vladimir, a city 180 kilometers east of the capital, where he remains. He said the nighttime checks continued, though they were less intrusive.

With Navalny in prison, prosecutors have asked a Moscow court to designate his Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) and his network of regional offices as extremist groups. A bill, which has sailed quickly through the Kremlin-controlled legislature bars members, donors, and supporters of organizations designated as extremist from seeking public office.

The move has been widely seen as an attempt to prevent any of Navalny's associates from running in September's parliamentary elections amid a slump in popularity of the ruling United Russia party.

Navalny's regional headquarters have been instrumental in implementing a "smart voting" strategy -- a project designed to promote candidates who are most likely to defeat United Russia in various elections.

With reporting by Meduza, TASS, and Interfax