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BRUSSELS, July 18 (Itar-Tass) - Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy voiced concern about the guilty verdict to Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and his business partner Pyotr Ofitserov.
“The High Representative is concerned about the guilty verdict and the prison sentences handed down today by the Kirov Court against Alexei Navalny, member of the Russian opposition coordination council and anti-corruption campaigner, and his co-defendant Pyotr Ofitserov. The charges against them have not been substantiated during the trial,” Ashton’s spokesperson said in a statement on Thursday, July 18.
“Civil society has a vital role to play in exposing wrongdoing and defending human rights, and it should not be stifled. This outcome, given the procedural shortcomings, raises serious questions as to the state of the rule of law in Russia. The High Representative hopes that their sentences will be reconsidered in the appeal process,” the statement said.
The Kirov court sentenced Navalny to five years in prison and a fine of 500,000 roubles. Ofitserov got a four-year sentence and a fine of 500,000 roubles.