Russia: latest Navalny jailing condemned
Aleksei Navalny and fellow campaigner Leonid Volkov sentenced to 20 days’ detention
‘It is a blatant attempt by the Russian authorities to suppress and suffocate any dissenting voices’ - Denis Krivosheev
Amnesty International has condemned the sentencing of Russian opposition leaders Aleksei Navalny and Leonid Volkov to 20 days in administrative detention earlier today.
Navalny and Volkov were found guilty of “repeated violation of the established procedure of organising or holding meetings, rallies, demonstrations, marches or picketing”, having been tried on the same day in two different courts in Moscow.
Amnesty is calling for the immediate and unconditional release of both men.
The prominent anti-corruption campaigner and aspiring presidential candidate, Mr Navalny, was detained by police on 29 September on the way to the city of Nizhnii Novgorod where he was due to take part in a rally. He was charged under Article 20.2.8 of the Russian Code of Administrative Violations (“repeated violation of the established procedure of organising or holding meetings, rallies, demonstrations, marches or picketing”). His chief of campaigns, Mr Volkov, was briefly detained on the same day in Nizhnii Novgorod and accused of the same offence.
The rally had been agreed with the local authorities, in accordance with the overly restrictive Russian law which requires the authorities’ express prior permission. However, earlier that week, the city administration withdrew its permission for the rally, a move that Navalny described as unlawful. The rally went ahead. According to eyewitnesses, around a dozen peaceful demonstrators were detained by police in the city.
Navalny and Volkov’s jailing comes days before another rally Navalny was organising in St Petersburg on Saturday, the birthday of President Vladimir Putin. The local authorities have not yet replied to the organisers’ request to hold the rally.
Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia Deputy Director, said:
“The arrest of Aleksei Navalny and Leonid Volkov comes as no surprise.
“It is a blatant attempt by the Russian authorities to suppress and suffocate any dissenting voices, and intimidate people trying to exercise their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
“Peaceful protest is a right, not a crime nor a privilege which the authorities can bestow on a whim to people in Russia.
“Over the last few months, scores of activists across Russia have been subjected to arbitrary detention, over-the-top fines, beatings and intimidation.
“This is the third time this year that Aleksei Navalny has been thrown behind bars solely for peacefully exercising his rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. He has committed no crime, yet will have spent two months in prison simply for challenging the repressive Russian laws on public gatherings.”