The recent conviction of Russian anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny and his brother Oleg demonstrates the continuing deterioration of the rule of law under the current regime, members of the European Parliament said today in a resolution highly critical of the political manipulation of justice by Russian authorities.
The resolution drew attention to the fact that the Navalny brothers’ prosecution is the latest in a series of cases, starting with Khodorkovsky’s jailing in 2003, that have “cast doubt on the independence and impartiality of the judicial institutions of the Russian Federation.”
MEPs noted another parallel with Khodorkovsky’s case: the way in which Navalny’s sentencing was brought forward from mid-January 2015 to 30 December 2014, when most Russians were focused on new year festivities. Khodorkovsky’s sentencing for his second conviction was arbitrarily brought forward in exactly the same way, to 30 December 2010.
Highlighting “a systematic failure of the Russian state to uphold the rule of law and to deliver justice to its citizens”, the resolution notes that despite its membership of the a Council of Europe and its international legal obligations regarding the rule of law and human rights, the Russian government is taking the country in the opposite direction.
MEPs also backed Alexei Navalny’s high-profile campaign to expose corrupt officials within the government and reiterated their support for the Russian people in finding a settlement to ensure democracy, political pluralism, unity and the respect of human rights.
The ongoing crackdown against Russian civil society organisations came under the spotlight in the resolution, which called for more EU funding to be allocated to such organisations.
In a separate resolution on the situation in Ukraine, MEPs condemned the Russian government’s actions in fuelling the conflict in the east of the country and called for the maintenance, and possible strengthening, of the sanctions regime against Russia until the Kremlin fulfils its responsibilities under the Minsk agreement.