Outrage over sentencing of Russian opposition figure Aleksey Navalny

Condemnation and outrage have greeted the sentencing on Tuesday of Alexei Navalny, the 44-year-old Russian opposition figure.

Nalvany, who has been running on an anti-corruption platform, was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison, but he received credit for about a year already served, meaning he will likely spend more than two years in jail on accusations he violated the terms of his probation, stemming from an embezzlement conviction in 2014, a claim his party rejects as politically motivated.

The court said Nalvany violated his probation when he traveled to Germany last year to receive treatment for poison.

Russian law requires in-person registration for probation. Navalny and his legal team argue that he was physically incapable of this requirement, having been placed in a medically induced coma at one point in Germany.

Navalny was arrested on January 17 after his plane from Germany landed in Moscow, where he was recuperating from nerve-agent poisoning, a failed assignation attempt. On August 20, 2020 he was poisoned by Novichok, a nerve agent, confirmed by five Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) certified laboratories.

Despite large protests throughout Russia and in major cities around the world to free Navalny, the Russian federal government continues to move forward with the charges. A move that Navalny and his supporters call a scare tactic.

On Tuesday, Navalny described President Vladimir Putin as “an evil little man in his bunker who will be remembered only as Putin the poisoner.”

Vladimir Putin

He has stated that he has “deeply offended (Putin) simply by surviving the assassination attempt that he ordered.”

International leaders have expressed concern. British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said, “The U.K, calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Alexei Navalny and all of the peaceful protesters and journalists arrested over the last two weeks.”

Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde, requested that Russia release Navalny to calm protestors instead of instigating larger and more violent protests.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, ahead of his official visit to Moscow, insisted that Russia should comply with international commitments on human rights.

Today, February 2nd, 2021 the United States expressed deep concerned by Russian authorities’ decision to sentence opposition figure Aleksey Navalny. “Like every Russian citizen, Mr. Navalny is entitled to the rights provided in the Russian constitution, and Russia has international obligations to respect equality before the law and the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly,” Secretary Antony J. Blinken said in a public statement.

The United States is asking for the Russian government to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Navalny, along with other Russian citizens wrongfully detained.

Dmitry Peskov, Kremlin spokesman, said Russia is ready for dialogue about Navalny, but warned against Western criticism into the case. Peskov said in a call with reporters, “We are ready to patiently explain everything, but we aren’t going to react to mentor-style statements or take them into account.”

Kristi Pelzel is a Senior White House correspondent for Today News Africa in Washington D.C. Kristi also covers the US Department of State and the United Nations. She holds a master's degree from Georgetown University.

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