As world’s media focuses on the Sinai, Russia continues to abuse political prisoners


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With the world’s attention on events in Egypt and the Sinai, Russia is continuing to abuse political prisoners, including Oleg Navalny, brother of the leading Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny. In December 2014, Oleg Navalny was sentenced to three and a half years in prison, in a politically-motivated case, after being found guilty by a Moscow court of defrauding the French company “Yves Rocher” – something the company itself denies.

The case against Oleg Navalny is directly related to the political activities of his brother, Alexei, who is a prominent opponent of Vladimir Putin’s regime and who has previously spoken at The Henry Jackson Society. Holding Oleg Navalny in custody as a hostage, the Russian authorities seek to exert pressure on Alexei Navalny to prevent his ongoing efforts to confront the Kremlin’s authoritative and repressive rule.

Oleg Navalny is currently serving his sentence in a penal colony in Orel region, about 400 km from Moscow. In October, he was put under strict containment conditions. Since August, he has been placed in solitary confinement on three separate occasions, for a total of 45 days.

A number of Russian and international public figures, including 2015 Nobel Literature Prize winner Svetlana Aleksievich, leading Russian economist Sergei Guriev and prominent member of Soviet dissident movement Vladimir Bukovsky, signed an open letter to the Russian authorities calling for the end of this inhuman treatment.

Vladimir Ashurkov, a member of Alexei Navalny’s Progress Party and who himself was forced to leave Russia as a result of political persecution, said: “Oleg is facing unprecedented pressure as a result of his brother’s emergence as the most effective leader of Russian opposition. The latest deterioration of his conditions in prison amounts to outright torture. We are accumulating information on the people within the Russian law enforcement system who are responsible for this, with the view to include these people on the U.S.’ so-called Magnitsky List and corresponding lists for restricted persons in the European Union.

Among these people are: Yury Dorokhin, deputy head of Orel Region Penitentiary Authority; Yuri Afanasiev, the head of Penal Colony Number 5, where Oleg Navalny is serving his term; and, Gennady Grevtsev, deputy head of Penal Colony Number 5. This list will be expanded to include judges and prosecutors responsible for Oleg’s unlawful prosecution and imprisonment.

We are glad that we are supported by Hermitage Capital who have been leading the global campaign for justice for Sergei Magitsky and have been instrumental in pushing for the U.S. Magnitsky Act. They have extensive experience in trying to bring corrupt Russian law enforcement officials to justice, and we welcome their support.”

Bill Browder, CEO, Hermitage Capital said: “It is clear that persecution of Oleg Navalny is politically motivated. The latest string of penalties imposed on him within the prison system is designed to put further pressure on him and his brother, Alexey. This was exactly the same tactics used against my lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, before his death in custody in 2009, after he uncovered and exposed the largest tax fraud in Russia’s history.

The purpose of U.S. Magnitsky Act is to put pressure on people who use Russia’s law enforcement system in corrupt and criminal ways. We encourage supporters of Oleg to publicly identify the individuals responsible for the unlawful and inhuman treatment he has been subjected to, and to submit the names of those individuals to be added to the U.S. Magnitsky List in order to see them banned from the entering U.S. and any assets they have in the U.S. frozen.”


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