When Alexie Navalny, the Russian opponent of Vladimir Putin, was appealing against a jail sentence and ordered to a prison colony for two-and-half years, he proclaimed his Christian faith and quoted from the Bible.
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied," he said before the judge hearing his case, the BBC reported.
In court on Feb.20, he referenced both the Bible and the Harry Potter book series, as he argued the charges against him were absurd as he was unable to report to the police while recovering from the attack.
Navalny was detained in January after returning to Russia from Germany, where he was receiving treatment for a near-fatal nerve agent attack,
He blamed that attack on Putin, the Russian president, and said the charges he was facing were fabricated.
The Kremlin has denied any involvement in his poisoning.
The Babushkinsky District Court upheld the two-and-a-half-year prison sentence imposed on Navalny after being convicted in the same court of slandering a World War Two veteran and fined the equivalent of $11,500.
Navalny was forced to listen to the reading of the sentences in handcuffs. Putin's adversary was allowed to speak during the trials. In both cases, "he took on a solemn accusatory tone, almost like a biblical prophet," Asia News.it reported Feb. 22.
The Ruusain activist ended his address by saying: "This is why you're going to burn in hell. And since you're still young, I hope you will be called to answer before a real court with people."
Navalny first accused Putin and the judges of "using the justice system like magicians," turning it around and doing with it as they wished. "I am not alone in seeing your escapades; regular folks are watching us," too.
He used evangelical language and cited messages he recently received.
"They write me to tell me to resist, not to give up." One person asked him, "Why do you put up with all this? In interviews, you say you believe in God, and He said, 'Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied." So, it's okay with you?"
Thinking about these words, Navalny said: "He's right. At this difficult time, I am satisfied because I have done what is written; I have not betrayed the commandment."
Navalny said he believes in God. "People in my Anti-Corruption Fund chuckle over this, but it makes my life easier because there is a book that says what needs to be done, and I try to stick to it."
In the first case, Navalny was accused of breaking the terms of a 2014 suspended sentence for embezzlement that required him to report regularly to Russian police.
Following Navalny's two speeches, presiding Judge Vera Akimova asked the Federal Investigative Committee to investigate the convicted person for "insulting the participants in the trial."
His speeches could lead to further prosecutions and new convictions, up to six months of additional jail time.