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Deposed Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi (file photo)

A court in Egypt has sentenced former Islamist President Muhammad Morsi to three years in prison after convicting him for insulting the judiciary.

The court in Cairo ruled on December 30 that Morsi had defamed the judiciary in a public speech he made more than four years ago "with the aim of spreading hate," according to state TV.

The court also sentenced 18 co-defendants in the same case to three years in prison each.

Five others, including prominent pro-democracy campaigner Alaa Abdel-Fattah, were fined 30,000 Egyptian pounds ($1,688)

Morsi was Egypt's first freely elected president. He was ousted by the military in 2013 after mass protests against his one-year divisive rule.

He has since faced trial on a host of charges, including espionage and conspiring with foreign groups.

Since 2013, Egypt has cracked down on Islamists, jailing thousands of them as well as secular and liberal activists.

Based on reporting by AP and dpa
Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny (file photo)

The Russian Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by opposition leader Aleksei Navalny against a decision to bar him from running in Russia's 2018 presidential election.

The court's ruling on December 30 upheld a December 25 decision by Russia's Central Election Commission that the anticorruption crusader isn't eligible to run.

The court said the decision by the Central Election Commission fully conforms to law.

A lawyer for Navalny said he would now take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

Navalny is barred from running for office because of a conviction in a fraud case, which has been viewed as political retribution.

Russian Supreme Court Rejects Navalny Appeal On Presidential Election Ban
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Following his disqualification, Navalny called on his supporters to boycott the vote.

He also announced plans to hold protests across Russia on January 28 to press home his call for a boycott of the election.

The Kremlin said such boycott calls should be reviewed by officials to see whether they break the law.

Navalny responded to the Supreme Court's ruling by repeating his call for a "voters' strike."

"We don't acknowledge elections without competition," he said on Twitter.

President Vladimir Putin is set to easily win a fourth term in office in the March 18 election, with his approval ratings topping 80 percent.

Putin, who has been president or prime minister since 1999, is seeking a new six-year term in the election.

Over the past year, Navalny has mounted a grassroots campaign across Russia.

Presidential campaigning officially started in Russia on December 18.

More than 20 people have declared their intention to run in the March election, including liberal Grigory Yavlinsky, business ombudsman Boris Titov, and journalist and TV personality Ksenia Sobchak.

While none of the candidates pose a a serious challenge to Putin, analysts say the Kremlin is worried about voter apathy and has focused on ways to boost turnout to make Putin's expected victory as impressive as possible.

With reporting by TASS, AP, and RFE/RL's Russian Service

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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