Moscow: German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has called for the immediate release of Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny, whom a court in Moscow sentenced to 3.5 years behind bars in a financial misdemeanor case on Tuesday.
The ruling was to replace Navalny’s suspended sentence in the same case due to his breach of conditions set in the court’s original verdict.
“Today’s verdict against Alexey @Navalny is a bitter blow against fundamental freedoms & the rule of law in #Russia. Already in 2017, the #ECHR criticized criminal prosecution in this case as arbitrary. Alexey #Navalny must be released immediately,” Maas said in a statement, published by the German Foreign Office on Twitter.
Navalny’s legal team has 10 days to appeal the ruling.
In 2014, Alexey Navalny and his brother Oleg were indicted on charges of embezzlement in dealings with the Russian subsidiary of French cosmetics company Yves Rocher. Alexey got a 3.5-year suspended sentence, with one of the conditions being that he check in with the police in person at least twice a month.
In 2019, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that Navalny’s house arrest during the Yves Rocher case trial breached several provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights but declined to recognize the case as politically-motivated.(Sputnik)