France most emphatically condemns the sentencing today of the Russian political opposition figure and anti-corruption activist Aleksei Navalny to 19 years’ confinement in a penal colony under a strict regime for “extremism” and “rehabilitating Nazi ideology”. The verdict, which brings the total duration of his imprisonment to more than 30 years, was handed down in a trial behind closed doors in the Melekhovo penal colony, where Mr. Navalny is already serving a sentence of 11 and a half years’ imprisonment for fraud and contempt of court.
The unjust conditions, arbitrary grounds and wrongful outcome of the trial testify to the judicial onslaught suffered by Mr. Navalny and to the Russian authorities’ disrespect for the rules of a fair trial and for the rule of law. Mr. Navalny’s health has greatly deteriorated since he suffered an attempt by the Russian regime to poison him in 2020, and he is being held in worrying conditions, with no access to the treatment required or to an independent medical examination. France is following his situation with concern and holds Russia responsible for any worsening of his physical condition.
His committed work to combat corruption, particularly through his Anti-Corruption Foundation, and promote democracy echoes the commitment of many other political activists and opposition figures who pay with their freedom and sometimes their lives for their aspiration for a more just and open Russia. Sadly, this prospect seems more and more remote, in view of the increasingly severe crackdown on freedoms in Russia since the start of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine.
Once again, we call on the Russian authorities to release Mr. Navalny immediately and unconditionally, along with all political prisoners.