Person of the Week: Aleksei Navalny

posted 19 Jun 2017, 08:52 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 19 Jun 2017, 09:02 ]
On 12 June 2017 anti-corruption protests took place in cities across Russia that were initiated by opposition activist and politician Aleksei Navalny. That very day, Aleksei Navalny was arrested outside his home in Moscow before the demonstration started. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail for staging rallies that did not have official permission (a term of 'administrative detention' later reduced to 25 days by a court on the grounds Navalny had two children and needed medical treatment for his eye). OVD-Info reported that at least 1720 people were detained at the protests, including at least 866 in Moscow and 658 people in St. Petersburg. The USA, the EU and international human rights organizations condemned the arrests. Amnesty International said protesters were subjected to cruel and degrading treatment. 

Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International, said: “The Russian authorities have used mass detentions as a tactic to crush peaceful protests. But the reprisals haven’t stopped there. Hundreds of peaceful protesters in Moscow and St Petersburg were locked up in police stations overnight, in plainly degrading conditions, crowded cells with little or no food, bedding or easy access to sanitation. We have received numerous reports of people piled on top of one another in police stations, where police dealing with extreme backlogs in processing cases forced them to stay overnight on the floor or even on the street while in police custody. It is an outrage for anybody to be detained and subjected to these inhumane conditions, let alone detained simply for peacefully expressing their views. It appears the authorities in Russia wanted to send a further message by making these detentions slow, humiliating and painful. The Russian authorities must stop detaining peaceful protesters, whose only ‘crime’ was to irk those in power. If there are any case where protesters are arrested for an internationally recognizable offence, they must be treated in a humane manner,”

Meanwhile, on 15 June, Vladislav Zdolnikov and Aleksandr Brusentsev, two staff members from the Anticorruption Foundation headed by Navalny, fled to Ukraine after Roskomnadzor, the government media regulator, launched investigations against them. In further developments that may well be related given the lack of independence of the courts in Russia, on 14 June a court in Orel region court turned down a request by Oleg Navalny, the brother of Aleksei Navalny, to mitigate his sentence, on the grounds that Oleg Navalny had not shown 'law-abiding behaviour.' In an additional blow to Navalny, who seeks to be a candidate in the 2018 presidential elections, on 15 June Ella Pamfilova, head of the federal Electoral Commission, said Aleksei Navalny was almost certain to be barred from the election on the grounds of his criminal conviction - a conviction Navalny contends was politically motivated.

Photo: Wikipedia

Sources:
'Russia: Police humiliate and mistreat hundreds of detained peaceful protesters,' Amnesty International, 14 June 2017
'1,700 people detained at Russia’s anti-corruption protests [OVD-Info],' Rights in Russia, 16 June 2017
'Russia Criticized For Detaining More Than 1,500 Anticorruption Protesters,' RFE/RL, 13 June 2017
'Russia protests: Opposition leader Alexei Navalny sentenced,' BBC, 12 June 2017
'Moscow Court Cuts Navalny's 30-Day Jail Term To 25,' RFE/RL, 16 June 2017
Two Russian Opposition Activists Flee To Ukraine, RFE/RL, 16 June 2017
'Russian Court Turns Down Request Of Navalny's Jailed Brother To Mitigate Sentence,' RFE/RL, 14 June 2017
Russian Elections Chief Says 'Practically No Chance' Navalny Can Get On Presidential Ballot,' RFE/RL, 15 June 2017


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