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Russian human rights council to examine Navalny case

July 18, 2013, 23:52 UTC+3

The Russian president’s Human Rights Council may examine the case of opposition leader Alexei Navalny

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MOSCOW, July 18 (Itar-Tass) - The Russian president’s Human Rights Council may examine the case of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, the Council’s Chairman Mikhail Fedotov said on Thursday, July 18.

“The Council has the practice of getting high-profile cases examined by experts,” Fedotov said and recalled the YUKOS case as an example.

“As for the case of Alexei Navalny and [Pyotr] Ofitserov, I have already talked with several members of the Council and they think that the Council should organise a public and legal review of the case, considering its resounding nature,” Fedotov said.

Speaking of the public protests in Moscow, Fedotov said Navalny’s supporters could have organised a legal protest.

“Spontaneous actions do no good. It was known all along that the verdict to Navalny would be handed down, and those who wanted to support him could have filed a request and organised a rally, as they did so many times before,” he said.

Protesters lined up along the National and Moskva hotels and the State Duma building and tried to block traffic on the adjacent streets. From time to time they chanted “Freedom to Navalny” and “Navalny”, clapped their hands and waved to the passing cars. Some of them tooted their horns in reply.

Law enforcers were not interfering although reinforced police patrols, Interior Troops and OMON anti-riot units have been deployed in the area. An hour ago they started forcing the protesters out.

At least ten people were detained. Police asked the protesters not to give in to provocations and comply with the law enforcers’ orders.

At least 60 people were detained in St. Petersburg. Protesters applauded after each detention. The protest has not been authorised by the city administration. Last week, it turned down the opposition’s request for a rally in support of Navalny.

Fedotov was also in downtown Moscow where the protests are taking place. He said police are acting correctly. “As far as I could see, police have been acting quite correctly,” he said, adding that no incidents have occurred so far.

“And I hope none will. It is very important to avoid bloodshed and violence,” Fedotov said.

Navalny and Ofitserov were taken into custody in the courtroom after the verdict had been announced.

Fedotov believes it was a mistake. “I think it was a mistake,” he said.

The ombudsman said that a defendant remains innocent until a court verdict takes effect.

The Prosecutor General’s Office said that Kirov’s court had no reason to take Navalny and Ofitserov into custody.

Both were under recognizance not to leave the city but were taken into custody in the courtroom after the judge had handed down a guilty verdict to both men, sentencing Navalny to five years and Ofitserov to four years in prison and a fine of 500,000 roubles each.

The Prosecutor General’s Office said both defendants could have stayed under the recognizance until the verdict took effect.

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