Responding to the news that jailed political opposition leader Aleksei Navalny will face a new criminal trial in prison on February 15 for alleged embezzlement and contempt of court, Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, said:
“Evidently unsatisfied with the prison sentences already handed down to Aleksei Navalny, the Russian authorities are trying him again behind the barbed wire walls of a prison in what they have cynically described as an ‘open court hearing’. This sham trial, attended by prison guards rather than the media, breaks international human rights law and clearly deprives Navalny of his right to a fair trial.
“Aleksei Navalny was detained under politically motivated charges and should never have been imprisoned in the first place. Now, as the new trial starts, it’s obvious that the Russian authorities intend to ensure that Navalnydoesn’t leave prison any time soon. A closed-door trial without public access only makes one more suspicious about new human rights violations the Russian authorities are trying to hide. They must ensure Navalny’s right to a fair trial is upheld by making it accessible to the public and held in accordance with domestic and international law.”
Aleksei Navalny has been charged with alleged contempt of court and the embezzlement of more than $35,000, which prosecutors say he siphoned from donations to organizations he founded.
The hearing will take place within penal colony IK-2 in Pokrov, located about 100 km east of Moscow. The court did not explain why the trial would be held in prison and failed to explain how witnesses, journalists or Navalny’s defence team could attend the heavily restricted facility.
Navalny is currently serving a two-and-a-half-year sentence on trumped-up, politically motivated charges, which the European Court of Human Rights has described as “arbitrary and manifestly unreasonable.” If convicted under the new charges, Navalny faces up to 15 years in prison.
Contact: Gabby Arias