Aleksei Navalny, a popular informal opposition leader, was sentenced today to five years in a Russian prison colony after a politically motivated trial on highly questionable charges of embezzlement, Amnesty International said.
His alleged accomplice and co-defendant, businessman Petr Ofitserov, received a four-year sentence.
The organization calls for their immediate release. Any retrial must be on charges consistent with the economic facts of the case in proceedings that provide for the proper scrutiny of independent expert evidence.
“From the start there were clear indications that the criminal prosecution of Aleksei Navalny was politically motivated. The very nature of charges against him was highly questionable, and the way his guilt was supposedly proven raises serious doubts,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Program Director at Amnesty International.
“This was a parody of a prosecution and a parody of a trial. The case was twice closed for lack of evidence of a crime, before being reopened on the personal instruction of Russia’s top investigator.”