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Amnesty International demands the immediate Release of “Prisoner of Conscience”

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EFE / EPA / ANTON SMILEVETS

Moscow, Jan 17 (EFE) .- Amnesty International (AI) today demanded the immediate release of the Russian opponent and “prisoner of conscience” Alexéi Navalni, who was arrested this Sunday as soon as he arrived in Russia on a flight from Germany, where he he had recovered from the poisoning he suffered last August.
“Alexei Navalni has been deprived of his liberty for his peaceful political activism and for exercising freedom of expression. Amnesty International considers him a prisoner of conscience and calls for his immediate and unconditional release,” the NGO said in a statement.
Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service (SFP), which had issued a search and arrest warrant against the Russian politician, accuses Navalni of breaching the conditions of a suspended 3.5-year prison sentence handed down against him in 2014 and has asked to the Justice that orders his entry into prison.
Navalni’s arrest “is further proof that the Russian authorities seek to silence him,” said the director of AI’s Moscow office, Natalia Zvigina.
“The organization reiterates its call to the Russian authorities to launch a criminal investigation into the Navalni poisoning and to ensure that all those responsible are brought to justice in a fair trial,” Amnesty International said.
Navalni has accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of ordering his poisoning in Siberia last August.
According to AI, the Russian authorities have waged “a relentless campaign” against the 44-year-old opposition lawyer by training.
The NGO added that “the Russian authorities must end their campaign of intimidation and political persecution against their critics, including members of staff and supporters of the Navalni Anti-Corruption Foundation.”
“The authorities handled the arrival of Alexei Navalni as a complete security operation with hundreds of police summoned to the Vnukovo airport, arresting and pushing his supporters to a temperature of 20 degrees below zero,” AI said.
He also denounced the diversion of the flight at the last minute to another airport, Sheremetyevo, to avoid protests.
At least 53 people, including several Navalni allies, have been arrested this Sunday while waiting for Navalni in Vnukovo.
“All Navalni supporters and journalists detained at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport must be immediately and unconditionally released. Their only crime is to greet Alexei Navalni or cover his arrival in Russia,” AI stressed.

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