Transparency International calls upon the Russian authorities to respect the principles of justice and rule of law, and foster dialogue with citizens who have been peacefully protesting the arrest and sentencing of Alexei Navalny. It is completely unacceptable to use violence against those who express their views through peaceful public protest, exercising their constitutional right to peaceful and unarmed assembly. We demand the immediate release of Alexei Navalny and other political prisoners.
The unlawful arrest of thousands of Russian citizens who have publicly voiced their support for Alexei Navalny violates the principle of rule of law and is intended to silence the voice of civic protest. OVD-Info, a monitoring group, reports that 4,002 people were detained by the police during peaceful protests on 23 January, and 5,754 on 31 January. Those detained have been widely reported to have been treated with violence and brutality. Many of those detained were fined or jailed for five to 15 days. Protests in support of Navalny on the night of 2 February were quickly and brutally suppressed by the authorities.
The Russian authorities’ treatment of Alexei Navalny himself ignores principles of justice and seeks only to intimidate. In converting Navalny’s suspended sentence to a custodial sentence on 2 February, Moscow’s Simonovsky District Court ignored the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights, which has deemed Navalny’s sentence in the Yves Rocher case unlawful and ordered Russia to pay him and his brother Oleg more than 80,000 Euros compensation. Almost all of Mr. Navalny’s associates working for the Anti-Corruption Foundation have been arrested at various times in recent weeks.
Transparency International stands in solidarity with Alexei Navalny as a political activist who exposes corruption at the very highest levels in Russia. It is completely unacceptable to use force and judicial or administrative pressure against political opponents, journalists and civil activists who participate in anti-corruption investigations.