Russia: Navalny is prisoner of conscience after Moscow arrest
Prominent Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny arrested on arrival at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport
Investigation still needed into his Novichok poisoning in August
‘The Russian authorities are seeking to silence him’ - Natalia Zviagina
The Russian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release prominent Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny, said Amnesty International, after his arrest this afternoon minutes after he arrived at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport from Berlin.
Navalny had been recovering in the German capital after being poisoned in Siberia in August.
A popular political activist who has exposed corruption among Russia’s top officials and politicians, Navalny narrowly survived what has been independently confirmed as poisoning by a Novichok nerve agent on 20 August.
He has previously been tried and convicted in two separate, politically-motivated criminal cases. On 29 December, the Russian Investigative Committee levelled new charges against Navalny, accusing him of embezzling 356 million rubles (£3.6m) in donations to the Anti-Corruption Foundation and affiliated non-profit organisations. Amnesty believes these charges are trumped-up.
Navalny has been deprived of his liberty for his peaceful political activism and for exercising free speech. Amnesty considers him a prisoner of conscience and is calling for his immediate and unconditional release.
Amnesty is also reiterating its call on the Russian authorities to open a criminal investigation into Navalny’s poisoning in August and to ensure that all those responsible are brought to justice.
Natalia Zviagina, Amnesty International’s Moscow Office Director, said:
“Aleksei Navalny’s arrest is further evidence that the Russian authorities are seeking to silence him.
“The Russian authorities have waged a relentless campaign against Navalny.
“All Navalny supporters and journalists detained in Moscow Vnukovo Airport must be immediately and unconditionally released. Their only crime is wishing to greet Aleksei Navalny or to cover his arrival in Russia.”