Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, along with Senator John McCain (R-AZ), both members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and sponsors of the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act, responded swiftly to news that a Russian court has sentenced activist, blogger and opposition candidate for mayor of Moscow, Alexei Navalny to five years in prison.
“Today’s political conviction of Alexei Navalny continues Russia’s turn back to the darker days of the Soviet Union when courts were weapons of tyranny rather than legitimate defenders of the rule of law,” said Senator Cardin. “Like others throughout history, Navalny is a man fighting to free the country he loves. Trumped up charges and sham verdicts of political opponents, critics, and individuals who simply want to see a better future for their country, will only embolden, not end, the growing campaigns to name and shame corrupt officials and those who blatantly betray the trust of the Russian people. No one is fooled by the games being played here. Navalny must be released free and unharmed.”
“The conviction yesterday of Russian anti-corruption activist Alexi Navalny would be a total farce if it were not so deeply tragic, especially for Russia,” said Senator McCain. “Navalny’s show trial, as well as the posthumous conviction last week of another opponent of corruption, Sergei Magnitsky, are only the most recent examples of how the Putin government seems determined to drag Russia back to some of the worst aspects of its past. However, a growing number of Russian citizens like Navalny, Magnitsky, and many others are finding the courage to speak up against the injustices, suppression of freedom, and the growing culture of impunity in Russia today. The Putin government sees people like these as criminals, or worse. But the free world knows who they really are: Russian patriots, servants of justice and truth, and the future leaders of their country. Navalny will likely spend the next five years of his life in prison. He will often be alone, but he will not be forgotten. Navalny and all of Russia’s political prisoners should be released immediately and we will continue to call for this.”