The UK government has called for the “immediate and unconditional” release of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, following his sentence to nearly three years in a penal colony.
Mr Navalny was today sentenced by a Moscow court for the alleged crime of missing parole meetings in relation to a 2015 embezzlement conviction, since dismissed by the European Court of Human Rights as politically motivated.
Foreign secretary Dominic Raab denounced the sentence as “perverse” and called for the immediate release of Mr Navalny and all peaceful protesters and journalists arrested in relation to the case over recent weeks.
Mr Raab said the case brought against the opposition politician, who was recently the victim of attack with the poison novichok, showed Russia was “failing to meet the most basic commitments expected of any responsible member of the international community”.
Speaking from a glass box in the courtroom, Mr Navalny pointed out that he was in a coma and intensive care at the time of the meetings he was accused of missing, following the poisoning which he blames on president Vladimir Putin
A stern critic of the Russian president, Mr Navalny said that Putin would “go down in history as Vladimir the poisoner of underpants”.
Speaking shortly after the sentencing, Mr Raab said: “The UK calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Alexey Navalny and all of the peaceful protesters and journalists arrested over the last two weeks.
“Today’s perverse ruling, targeting the victim of a poisoning rather than those responsible, shows Russia is failing to meet the most basic commitments expected of any responsible member of the international community.”