UN experts call for immediate release of Alexei Navalny

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GENEVA, Switzerland — Two UN human rights experts on Monday saluted the bravery of anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny, and decried his arrest on arrival in Moscow.

Agnès Callamard, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and Irene Khan, the Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, called on the Russian Federation to immediately release  Navalny and to ensure that his life and well-being are protected.

It is believed that Navalny’s arrest was related to alleged violations of a suspended sentence for a fraud conviction following proceedings that the European Court of Human Rights said in 2018 were arbitrary and unfair. The Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia said in a statement that Navalny missed regular check-ins, required for his suspended sentence, without a valid reason.

“It is appalling that Navalny was arrested for breaching parole terms, for a sentence he should not have received in the first place and despite the authorities being fully aware that he had been several months in Germany recovering from an attempt on his life,” the experts said.

Navalny returned to Russia, despite having been the victim of an attempted killing and knowing he could be arrested. When his plane landed, he said that his return to Russia was the happiest moment in his life over the past five months.

“We salute his courage and will continue to follow his case closely,” the experts said. “Journalists, activists and supporters, who were arrested at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport, simply for doing their job and peacefully exercising their rights to expression and peaceful assembly must also be immediately released,” they added.

The UN experts have previously raised their concerns with the government and will continue to seek to engage in dialogue on these issues and monitor the situation.

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