World leaders call for Putin critic Alexey Navalny's release

Published: February 3,2021 11:01 AM

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February 3, 2021: Politicians from across the world have condemned the Moscow Court's sentence of Russian President Vladimir Putin's biggest critic Alexey Navalny and called for his release.

February 3, 2021: Politicians from across the world have condemned the Moscow Court's sentence of Russian President Vladimir Putin's biggest critic Alexey Navalny and called for his release.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Washington will closely work with allies and partners on the court ruling for the Kremlin critic.

"The United States is deeply concerned by Russian authorities' decision to sentence opposition figure Alexey Navalny to two years and eight months imprisonment, replacing his suspended sentence with jail time," he said in a statement.

Blinken added, "We reiterate our call for the Russian government to immediately and unconditionally release Mr Navalny, as well as the hundreds of other Russian citizens wrongfully detained in recent weeks for exercising their rights, including the rights to freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly."

The United Kingdom considers the arrest of Russian opposition figure as a breach of Moscow's international commitment, said Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Tuesday.

"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," the statement, quoted by Sputnik read.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson called Navalny's decision to return to Russia as "brave and selfless" adding that the ruling expressess "pure cowardice".

"Alexey @Navalny's decision to return to Russia after being poisoned was a truly brave and selfless act. In contrast, today's ruling was pure cowardice and fails to meet the most basic standards of justice. Alexey Navalny must be released immediately," Johnson said on Twitter.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, according to Sputnik, said that the sentence to Navalny is "far from any standards" of a rule-of-law state.

"The sentence to Alexey Navalny is far from any standards of a rule-of-law state. Navalny must be immediately released. Violence against peaceful protesters must stop," German cabinet spokesman Steffen Seibert quoted Merkel on Twitter.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called for the immediate release of Russian opposition figure.

"Canada strongly condemns Russia's imprisonment of Alexei Navalny. We call for his immediate release, as well as the release of the peaceful protestors and journalists who have been detained in recent weeks. The justice system must never be abused for political purposes," Trudeau said in a statement on Tuesday via Twitter.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday also hit out at Moscow for the decision and called the sentencing as "unacceptable"

"The sentencing of Alexey Navalny is unacceptable. Political differences are not a crime. We are calling for his immediate release. The respect for human rights such as the democratic freedom is non-negotiable," Macron wrote on Twitter.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz also called for the release of the Putin critic. "Kurz wrote on Twitter: "Today's sentence to Alexey Navalny in Moscow is unacceptable. I demand his immediate release, as well as an end to violence against peaceful demonstrators. Legal statehood and the right to free expression of opinion must be ensured."

Sputnik further reported that Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called the French president's reaction "either a complete separation from reality, a lack of understanding what was discussed today, or, which is closer to home, a political bias."

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Tuesday demanded Russia to immediately release the opposition figure.

"The sentencing of Alexey [Navalny] runs counter Russia's international commitments on rule of law & fundamental freedoms. It goes against the verdict of #ECHR, which ruled this case arbitrary and unreasonable. I call for his immediate release," Borrell tweeted.

A Moscow court on Tuesday sent Navalny to prison for more than two-and-a-half years.

CNN reported the verdict was announced after a heated hearing in which the Kremlin critic ridiculed claims he broke his parole conditions while in a coma and denounced Russia's leader as "Putin the poisoner."

The Putin critic was previously handed a three-and-a-half-year suspended sentence in the 2014 case along with five years of probation. He had to spend five months in Germany recovering from Novichok poisoning before his return to Moscow on January 17. (ANI)