Russia Navalny: Strasbourg court condemns detentions of Putin foe

Russia Navalny: Strasbourg court condemns detentions of Putin foe
Europe’s top human rights court has found that the repeated detention of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was politically motivated. Mr Navalny had filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg and was there to hear the ruling on Thursday. The court found that his seven arrests between 2012 and 2014 had been aimed at “suppressing political pluralism”. Since then, police have arrested him several times again under protest laws. Mr Navalny arrived in Strasbourg after initially being refused permission to leave Russia over a court fine. Since leading mass protests in Moscow in 2011-12, he has campaigned against corruption under President Vladimir Putin, and has embraced political causes such as opposition to the raising of the retirement age. He has been barred from standing for political office because of a conviction for embezzlement which he says was trumped up. He has spent a total of 172 days in jail, an unnamed spokeswoman was quoted as saying by AFP news agency. Usually he is held for a few weeks or made to pay a fine. In 2013, he was convicted of embezzlement involving a state-run timber company, Kirovles, and given a suspended prison sentence of five years. The verdict was upheld at a retrial last year. The ECHR found the original Kirovles trial had been based on “arbitrary interpretation of the law”, and Mr Navalny insists the case was fabricated in order to keep him out of politics. As a result of the case, he was placed under house arrest for a period of time. The court fine he had to pay this week, which amounted to 2.165m roubles (£24,600; $32,000), related to the Kirovles case. He said the fine had been deliberately enforced to stop him leaving Russia.

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