Quote for the Week: “The Committee of Ministers of the 47-nation Council of Europe has expressed grave concern that Aleksey Navalnyy remains in detention and his conviction in the ‘Yves Rocher’ case still stands.”

Week-ending 11 June 2021

The Committee of Ministers of the 47-nation Council of Europe has expressed grave concern that Aleksey Navalnyy remains in detention and his conviction in the “Yves Rocher” case still stands. After examining the Russian Federation’s implementation of the Navalnyye v. Russia judgment from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), the Committee strongly urged the authorities to immediately release Mr Aleksey Navalnyy, to quash his conviction and that of his brother, Oleg Navalnyy, in this case and to reimburse the fine and the civil damages they have paid. The Committee’s interim resolution on the Navalnyye v. Russia case was published following its latest regular meeting to supervise the execution of judgments from the European Court of Human Rights. The Committee of Ministers recalled that in this case the ECHR held that the applicants were convicted of acts indistinguishable from regular commercial activities by judicial decisions that were arbitrary, unforeseeable and manifestly unreasonable, in violation of the principle “no crime or punishment without law” and the right to a fair trial. The Committee underlined that the obligation of restitutio in integrum calls for measures to restore the applicants as far as possible to the position they would have enjoyed had the violations not occurred and that such measures should be compatible with the conclusions and spirit of the Court’s judgments. It recalled that the just satisfaction awarded in this case has been paid but the reopening of the proceedings has not remedied the violations established and that, furthermore, on 2 February 2021 Mr Aleksey Navalnyy’s suspended sentence, imposed as a result of the arbitrary conviction in this case, was converted into a sentence of real imprisonment. The Committee of Ministers will resume the consideration of this case at its next meeting on the execution of ECHR judgments in September 2021. At the meeting, the Committee of Ministers has also examined and adopted decisions on the execution of three other ECHR judgments involving Aleksey Navalnyy: Navalnyy and Ofitserov (the “Kirovles case”), where the European Court found a violation of the right to a fair hearing, and judgments on the cases Navalnyy v. Russia and Navalnyy (No.2) v. Russia (Navalny group). In the latter two cases, the Court found violations of freedom of assembly and freedom of expression, the right to liberty and security and the right to a fair trial. Moreover, in both cases the Court found that some of the restrictions imposed on the applicant pursued the ulterior purpose of suppressing political pluralism, in violation of the Article 18 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

-‘Committee of Ministers strongly urges Russian authorities to immediately release Aleksey Navalnyy and quash his and his brother’s convictions, Council of Europe, 10 June 2021

Other sources:

The Moscow Times, 10 June 2021: The committee of ministers of pan-European rights body the Council of Europe on Thursday said it strongly urged Russia to “immediately” release jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny, in line with a previous ruling by the European Court of Human Rights. The committee, which oversees the implementation of ECHR rulings, expressed “its grave concern” that Navalny “remains in detention and his conviction stands”, the Council of Europe said. The ECHR had in February ordered Russia to release Navalny after he was jailed on his return from Germany where he had been convalescing following a poisoning attack in Siberia that he blamed on the Kremlin.

Other news:

The Moscow Times, 7 June 2021: Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has been transferred from a prison hospital back to his penal colony after receiving treatment following a hunger strike, his allies said Monday. Navalny was jailed for two and a half years in February on old embezzlement charges he and his supporters say are politically motivated.  He was sentenced shortly after returning to Russia from Germany, where he was receiving treatment for a near-fatal poisoning attack with a nerve agent.

RFE/RL, 7 June 2021: A Moscow court has prolonged the curfew for Lyubov Sobol, the lawyer for jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), potentially undermining her campaign for parliament. Sobol’s lawyer, Vladimir Voronin, told the Interfax news agency on June 7 that the court extended her curfew by six months to the end of December. The 33-year-old lawyer said in March she planned to run for parliament’s lower chamber, the State Duma, in September elections. She is the latest opposition politician seeking a seat in parliament to face legal pressure.

The Moscow Times, 8 June 2021: Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has dedicated a prestigious rights award to all political prisoners in Russia and in Belarus, his daughter told a summit of rights defenders on Tuesday. “My dad asked me today to give this award to every single political prisoner in Russia and Belarus,” Daria Navalnaya said in a video statement to the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy, citing a letter from her father. “He wrote that most of them are in a much worse situation compared to me, because they’re not as well known or famous,” the 20-year-old said in her first public comments since her father’s jailing in February. “They should know that they are not alone or forgotten about.”

RFE/RL, 8 June 2021: A court in Moscow has upheld a one-year correctional-labor sentence for Lyubov Sobol, a lawyer for jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), on trespassing charges that she has described as a move to silence her. Before the Perovsky district court announced its decision to uphold the sentence on June 8, Sobol reiterated in the courtroom that the case against her was politically motivated, as she had not committed any crime. According to Russian law, those handed a suspended sentence of correctional labor must pay the State Treasury a certain amount of their salary if they are employed. If they are unemployed, they must work at jobs defined by the Federal Penitentiary Service during the term of their sentence.

The Moscow Times, 9 June 2021: Russian security agents linked to the poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny previously poisoned prominent writer and journalist Dmitry Bykov, The Insider news website and Bellingcat investigative outlet reported Wednesday. The latest report follows investigations by The Insider, Bellingcat and CNN claiming that alleged members of an elite Federal Security Service (FSB) chemical-weapons unit trailed Navalny for years before nearly killing him with military-grade nerve agent Novichok in August 2020. The investigations used flight logs and phone call data obtained on the black market to track the officers’ movements.

The Moscow Times, 10 June 2021: Siberian doctors falsified Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s medical records that contained evidence of his nerve agent poisoning last summer, the jailed opposition figure’s allies said in an investigation published Thursday. Omsk region doctors who first treated Navalny after he fell severely ill on Aug. 20, 2020, said their tests did not find any toxic substances despite later findings by the global chemical-weapons watchdog and three European labs showing a Novichok-type nerve agent in his samples. In its latest investigative report, Navalny’s team said it was able to dupe the Omsk hospital archive into sharing Navalny’s unredacted medical records in November 2020 and compare them to a cleared copy that the hospital handed over a month later. 

RFE/RL,10 June 2021; Independent investigative groups Bellingcat and The Insider say a detailed investigation shows Russian writer and poet Dmitry Bykov, a critic of the government, suffered a poisoning attack two years ago at the hands of the same agents suspected of being involved in the poisoning of opposition figures Aleksei Navalny and Vladimir Kara-Murza, Jr. In a report released on June 9, the groups said they had identified “significant correlations” between the travels of members of a Federal Security Service (FSB) squad and the previously unexplained poisonings or deaths of several other public figures, including the twice near-fatal poisoning of outspoken the opposition politician Kara-Murza.

The Moscow Times, 11 June 2021: An exiled top associate of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny said Friday that Russian authorities have put him on a wanted list on suspicion of committing an unspecified crime. Ivan Zhdanov, the former director of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) which a Russian court declared “extremist” earlier this week, has been living in Lithuania to avoid being jailed in Russia. 

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