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PACE rapporteurs call for Navalny’s release

Jacques Maire (ALDE, France), rapporteur on the poisoning of Alexei Navalny for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), together with the two co-rapporteurs for PACE’s monitoring of the Russian Federation, Axel Schäfer (Germany, SOC) and Ria Oomen-Ruijten (Netherlands, EPP/CD), have today issued the following statement on Mr Navalny’s arrest, which came shortly before his expected participation in a hearing organised by the Assembly’s Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights on 19 January.

“We deeply regret the Russian authorities’ decision to arrest Mr Navalny upon his return to Russia. Mr Navalny is charged with breaching the conditions of a suspended sentence in a case where the European Court of Human Rights found that the Russian courts had, in effect, fabricated the crime of which he was convicted. This sentence should never have been applied and so Mr Navalny should not have been liable to arrest.”

“We call on the Russian authorities to release Mr Navalny immediately. We trust that in any case, they will not prevent his participation in tomorrow’s hearing, in accordance with the Russian Federation's duty of good faith co-operation as a member of the Council of Europe. In the meantime, they must ensure that Mr Navalny’s rights under Russian and international law, including his rights against arbitrary detention under Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights, are fully respected. We also deplore the arrest and detention of dozens of Mr Navalny’s supporters who were peacefully awaiting his arrival at Vnukovo airport; they too must be immediately released,” they concluded.

“In contrast to their determination to imprison Mr Navalny, the Russian authorities refuse to open an investigation into his attempted murder by Novichok poisoning,” added Mr Maire. “Tomorrow’s hearing will be an important step to discuss mounting evidence that Russian state agents were directly involved. If nothing else, Russian officials should be desperate to know how an illegal nerve agent, developed in secret state laboratories, came to be used against one of their fellow citizens. The hearing will be an opportunity for the representative of the Russian authorities to present their views on the many urgent questions surrounding Mr Navalny’s poisoning.”

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