News / Europe

Russia Widely Criticized Over Sentence of Opposition Leader

Activists hold leaflets reading 'In Support of Navalny' with a photo of opposition leader Alexei Navalny who was convicted of embezzlement and sentenced to five years in prison, in St. Petersburg, Russia, July 18, 2013.Activists hold leaflets reading 'In Support of Navalny' with a photo of opposition leader Alexei Navalny who was convicted of embezzlement and sentenced to five years in prison, in St. Petersburg, Russia, July 18, 2013.
x
Activists hold leaflets reading 'In Support of Navalny' with a photo of opposition leader Alexei Navalny who was convicted of embezzlement and sentenced to five years in prison, in St. Petersburg, Russia, July 18, 2013.
Activists hold leaflets reading 'In Support of Navalny' with a photo of opposition leader Alexei Navalny who was convicted of embezzlement and sentenced to five years in prison, in St. Petersburg, Russia, July 18, 2013.
VOA News
A Russian court has sentenced opposition leader Alexei Navalny to five years in prison for embezzlement, in a ruling that has sparked widespread condemnation.
 
Navalny was convicted Thursday of embezzling $500,000 worth of timber from a state-owned company, while working as an adviser to a provincial governor in 2009. His co-defendant, Pyotr Ofitserov, was sentenced to four years in prison.
 
The White House said it was "deeply disappointed" by the ruling, which it called "the latest example of a disturbing trend aimed at suppressing dissent in civil society in Russia."
 
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said she was concerned about Navalny's conviction and sentence, saying the charges had not been substantiated during the trial.
 
British Foreign Secretary William Hague called on Russia to "to respect fully the principles of justice and ensure that the rule of law is applied in a non-discriminatory and proportionate way."
 
The 37-year-old opposition leader, who has exposed alleged government corruption, says the charges are politically motivated and intended to silence him.
 
His lawyer, Olga Mikhailova, said Thursday's verdict was a re-write of the prosecution's statement.
 
"The first thing is that the verdict was copied from the prosecution statement - word for word in some places," Mikhailova said. "I believe the court did not add anything to [the] prosecution argumentation, so everything created in the depths of the Investigative Committee was voiced today by the court."
 
In a Twitter message posted from court, Navalny urged his supporters to continue his campaign, calling on them not to get bored or idle.
 
Navalny's wife, Yulia, said his anti-corruption fund will continue its work despite the outcome of the case.
 
"As much as it was possible to be ready for this, Alexei was ready. I, and all our family, support him, have supported him and will support him in the future," she said. "If anybody hopes that Alexei's investigations will stop, then this is not true. The Fund to Fight Corruption will work as before."
 
Navalny was immediately detained following the verdict, but in a surprise move prosecutors later asked that he be allowed to remain free pending his appeal.
 
Navalny had recently registered to run in Moscow's September mayoral race, but his chief campaign official said he would pull out. Under Russian law, he is no longer eligible to run for any office, including the 2018 presidential election, which he also planned to contest.
 
Earlier this year, Novaya Gazeta, an opposition newspaper, researched the rulings of Judge Sergey Blinov, who heard Navalny's case. All his verdicts were "guilty" in 130 rulings in an 18-month period. 
 
Last year, Navalny angered Russian President Vladimir Putin by leading mass street demonstrations in Russia's capital. 
 
He also helped organize mass protests starting in 2011 against alleged electoral fraud and Putin's return to the presidency.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs