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viernes, 19 de julio de 2013


Barcelona/ Mambí en A/ The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) condemns the wrongful conviction of anti-corruption advocate Alexei Navalny and calls on Russian authorities to reverse his sentence. Navalny, a prominent Russian opposition leader, was sentenced yesterday to five years in prison on politically motivated charges of embezzlement and later released on bail pending an appeal.

“The elimination of all dissent and public scrutiny is a top priority for President Vladimir Putin. The message is clear: Should you dare to scrutinize President Putin or his government’s actions, you will be sent to prison,” said HRF chairman Garry Kasparov. “Yesterday’s verdict in a case of purely political persecution is a serious blow for all pro-democracy and freedom activists. This decision confirms that under Putin, no criticism will be tolerated,” Kasparov concluded.

Navalny is a lawyer well-known for his anti-corruption advocacy. He gained international attention in 2009, through his blog, in which he exposed corruption inside Russia by documenting several cases that produced public outrage. In 2011, he was one of the leaders behind the organization of large-scale demonstrations against the alleged electoral fraud in Russia. On April 4, 2013, Navalny announced his intentions to run for the presidency in 2018 against Putin.

On July 30, 2012, the Investigative Committee of Russia charged Navalny with embezzlement. The committee accused him of conspiring to steal timber from the state-owned company KirovLes, while working as an adviser to Kirov’s governor Nikita Belykh in 2009. Navalny was released on his own recognizance. The case was closed twice due to a lack of evidence, but was reopened three months ago on the orders of Alexander Bastrykin, the head of the Investigative Committee. On July 18, a court in the city of Kirov sentenced Navalny to five years in prison for the alleged embezzlement of 16 million rubles while he was volunteering as advisor to Belykh. Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, stated yesterday: “This outcome, given the procedural shortcomings, raises serious questions as to the state of the rule of law in Russia.”

Earlier today, one day after the verdict was handed down, Navalny was released on bail pending an appeal. In an unusual move, prosecutors and the defense asked that he be released on bail, and the court ruled that keeping Navalny in custody would deny him his right to run in September’s Moscow mayoral elections. He will be allowed to await the appeal hearing at home in Moscow, but will not be allowed to travel outside of Russia. After his release Navalny thanked the thousands of supporters who turned out to protest the verdict in Moscow’s Manezh Square.

“Navalny’s case exposes the repressive nature of Putin’s regime, in which law enforcement and judicial authorities have no independence from the executive; instead, they are part of a well-oiled machine that suppresses anyone who dares to engage in anti-government expression,” said HRF president Thor Halvorssen. “Navalny’s release on a bogus democratic pretense following mass protests reinforces both the political nature of the case and the regime’s fear of popular uprising,” Halvorssen concluded.

HRF is a nonprofit nonpartisan organization that protects and promotes human rights globally, with an expertise in the Americas. We believe that all human beings are entitled to freedom of self-determination, freedom from tyranny, the rights to speak freely, to associate with those of like mind, and to leave and enter their countries. Individuals in a free society must be accorded equal treatment and due process under law, and must have the opportunity to participate in the governments of their countries; HRF’s ideals likewise find expression in the conviction that all human beings have the right to be free from arbitrary detainment or exile and from interference and coercion in matters of conscience. HRF does not support nor condone violence. HRF’s International Council includes human rights advocates George Ayittey, Vladimir Bukovsky, Palden Gyatso, Garry Kasparov, Mutabar Tadjibaeva, Ramón J. Velásquez, Elie Wiesel, and Harry Wu.

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