West reacts following Navalny conviction

The EU and UN have denounced the latest conviction of Russian lawyer Alexei Navalny, calling it a sham trial and demanding his immediate release.

After a "rigged" trial, "this arbitrary sentence is a response to his courage to criticise the Kremlin regime", European Council president Charles Michel wrote on Twitter, now rebranded as X. "The EU condemns in the strongest terms his politically motivated arrest, trial and conviction," EU head of diplomacy Josep Borrell added in a statement.

Navalny, 47, was sentenced on Friday by a Russian court to an additional 19 years in prison for "extremism." The dissident is already serving a nine-year sentence for "fraud". Navalny, who narrowly survived a poisoning in 2020, has dismissed all the lawsuits against him as politically motivated because he is a major critic of Vladimir Putin's regime.

The UN has also called for Navalny's immediate release. "This verdict raises new concerns about judicial intimidation and the use of legal systems for political purposes in Russia," High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk said in a press release.

German Foreign minister Annalena Baerbock called the new conviction "a flagrant injustice". "Putin fears nothing more than those who oppose war and corruption and defend democracy, even from a prison cell. He will not silence critical voices," she wrote on X.

France and the US have also criticised Navalny's imprisonment "in the strongest possible terms". "We once again call on the Russian authorities to release Mr Navalny immediately and unconditionally, along with all political prisoners," said a spokesperson for the French Foreign ministry. "These are unfounded charges of alleged extremism," a White House spokesperson said.



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