The anniversary of Aleksei Navalny poisoning and attempted killing marks one year of shameful injustice, says Amnesty International. The Russian authorities last week hit Navalny with yet another absurd criminal charge, while his supporters’ calls for accountability have been brutally repressed, and those behind the assassination attempt enjoy absolute impunity.
“One year ago today, the Kremlin’s most vocal critic was attacked with a banned chemical weapon, an outrageous crime which should have been the subject of an urgent investigation by Russian authorities. Instead, the Russian government chose to throw Aleksei Navalny behind bars on false grounds – in conditions which almost killed him – and to pursue a relentless campaign of reprisals against his supporters,” said Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.
“The Russian authorities’ failure to investigate the attempt on Navalny’s life is damning proof of their utter disregard for justice and for the right to life. We reiterate our call for an immediate and impartial investigation into the attempted poisoning of Aleksei Navalny, and for an end to the persecution of Navalny and his supporters.
“Most urgently, we call on the Russian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Aleksei Navalny, who is a prisoner of conscience deprived of liberty solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression. The international community must do everything in its power to ensure those behind the poisoning are brought to justice; to end the unlawful detention of Aleksei Navalny; and to halt the spiraling campaign of repression which Russian authorities have unleashed on their people.”
Aleksei Navalny, a leading Russian opposition activist and founder of the Anti-Corruption Foundation, collapsed while flying from Tomsk (Siberia) to Moscow on 20 August 2020. He was transferred to Germany for treatment where he spent 18 days in a coma. International experts later concluded that the politician had been poisoned with Novichok-class military-grade nerve agent which is prohibited under the Chemical Weapons Convention.
Since then, the Russian authorities have failed to launch a meaningful investigation, blocked Navalny’s lawyers’ attempts to challenge their inaction in various courts, and ignored strong evidence that agents of the Russian Federal Security Service were involved in the poisoning.
After his return to Moscow on 17 January 2021, Aleksei Navalny was arrested and sentenced to serve 2.5 years in a penal colony for violating the probation terms of his earlier, politically motivated sentence. The Anti-Corruption Foundation and the “Navalny Headquarters” support network were listed as “extremist” and banned. On 11 August 2021, Navalny was additionally charged with “creation of a non-profit organization undermining rights of citizens”, under an obscure article of the Russian Criminal Code. He faces an additional prison sentence of up to three years if found guilty.