The human rights organization Amnesty International no longer considers the imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny a prisoner of conscience. The organization has decided to revoke its status because of its comments from the past, which it says can be described as support for hatred, Reuters reported on Wednesday. However, Amnesty International continues to appeal for the release of the famous Kremlin critic.
“Some of these comments, which Navalny did not publicly condemn, have reached the threshold of defending hatred, which is contrary to the definition of our concept of a prisoner of conscience,” the organization said. Amnesty describes as prisoners of conscience those who, according to her, are unjustly imprisoned because of their opinions, faith, origin, race or sexual orientation. At the same time, according to the organisation’s website, these views must not advocate or excuse violence.
Navalny was labeled as such by the organization in January after Russian police arrested him immediately after returning to his homeland from Berlin, where he was recovering from last year’s poisoning with a nerve agent from a group of newcomers.
A spokesman for Amnesty International has now noted that the organization has responded to a number of complaints that have flooded its offices around the world following Navalny’s declaration of conscience. “We had too many requests, we could not ignore them,” Alexander Artemevev, a spokesman for the organization, told the BBC. He also admitted that these complaints may have been an “organized campaign” to discredit Navalny.
Amnesty did not specify the specific statements made by Navalny, for which she decided to take away his status as a prisoner of conscience. At the same time, she stated that she was not aware of similar statements in recent years.
Forty-four-year-old Navalny faces criticism for his older nationalist statements against illegal immigrants and for participating in regular nationalist marches years ago, Reuters reports, citing a 2007 video calling on the opposition to deport migrants.
“We have the right to be (ethnic) Russians in Russia. And we will defend this right,” Navalny was quoted as saying by Reuters. According to the AFP agency, he once resorted to racist and nationalist criticism of migrants from Central Asia and the Caucasus.
The opposition politician has not yet commented on Amnesty International’s decision, and his supporters have criticized the organization’s move. For example, Navalny’s collaborator Ivan Zdanov described her approach as “extremely shameful”.
At the same time, Amnesty International intends to continue to demand the release of Navalny from prison, despite his imprisonment. According to her, he did not commit any crime and is persecuted for criticizing President Putin and his regime.
The opposition leader blames the Kremlin and Russian secret services for his poisoning. Russian authorities deny that they have anything to do with poisoning. A Moscow court recently changed Navalny’s previously imposed suspended sentence for embezzlement to unconditional, arguing the verdict was a violation of the condition. In another trial, another court fined him heavily for defaming a war veteran. Navalnyj describes his imprisonment as politically motivated.
Video: Police in Moscow arrested hundreds of people demanding the release of Navalny
Police arrested hundreds of people in Moscow. They demanded the release of the opposition leader Navalny. | Video: Radio Free Europe