Transparency International condemns the sentencing in Russia of Alexei and Oleg Navalny on controversial fraud charges in a move that will be seen as a threat to anti-corruption and civic activism.
Alexei Navalny received a suspended sentence and his brother Oleg, a prison sentence of three and a half years.
“We cannot stand by and watch the families of activists targeted as a way to stop the voices of criticism. The courts should deliver justice not political messages,” said Elena Panfilova, vice-chair of Transparency International. “The speedy verdict and unclear motivation will leave many in Russia puzzled: is that rule of law? But worst of all is that family members of all anti-corruption and civic activists in Russia are now in danger. This should never happen in a strong democratic society."
Alexei Navalny is a well-known blogger and anti-corruption activist who was also a candidate for mayor of Moscow in 2013. He received almost 30 percent of the vote. His popularity appeared to spark a series of legal cases against him. He is currently under house arrest following a conviction for embezzlement.
The move is just the latest attack on civil society activists in Russia by a government that appears determined to silence dissent. In December 2012 Russia introduced new laws that limited the ability of civil society organisations to receive funds from outside Russia and forced any that did to register as ‘foreign agents’, a term that means spy. Transparency International Russia continues to challenge this regulation.
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