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Navalny treatment 'politically motivated harassment'

September 10, 2022

The US has said the denial of Alexei Navalny's rights reflects Russia's "insecurity and fear of those who speak the truth." The Kremlin critic has said Russian authorities were limiting his contact with his lawyers.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny appears from prison on a video link provided by the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service, at a courtroom in Vladimir, Russia, Tuesday, June 7, 2022.
Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny said Russian prison authorities were limiting his contact with lawyers alleging he was "committing crimes directly from the prison facilities"Image: Vladimir Kondrashov/AP/picture alliance

The United States on Friday expressed concern regarding Russia's treatment of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny, calling it "politically motivated harassment."

US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement: "His arrest upon return to Russia was already shameful, but the Russian government's insistence on harassing him further only highlights its insecurity and fear of those who speak the truth." 

The statement called for his immediate release.

Navalny had earlier said that Russian prison authorities were limiting his contact with lawyers and were accusing him of "committing crimes directly from the prison facilities."

Navalny said that all communication with his legal team was being subjected to three-day inspections by prison staff.

He also said he had been placed in solitary confinement on several occasions.

'Risks to his life have increased drastically' — Navalny ally

Navalny has been one of the most prominent critics of President Vladimir Putin. He is currently serving an 11 1/2 year sentence for fraud and parole violation charges. The opposition leader has called the cases against him "politically motivated."

The 46-year-old was arrested in January 2021 when he returned to Russia from Germany. He has since been communicating with the public, especially on social media, through his legal team.

Before his arrest Navalny spent months recovering from a near-fatal attack after being poisoned with the Soviet-era Novichok nerve agent. He said Russian authorities were behind the attack, but Moscow denied all allegations.

Recent images of Navalny showing the Putin critic looking thin and gaunt, made his associates fear the worst.

Close ally, Maria Pevchikh said: "We no longer have a way of knowing what is happening to him. The risks to his life have increased drastically.".

The Kremlin has clamped down on Navalny's supporters and associates with many facing criminal charges. 

ss/kb (Reuters, AFP)