It is “Pursued for strictly political reasons”, but Alexeï Navalny is no longer a “prisoner of conscience”, according to Amnesty International. The NGO granted this title to the famous opponent of Vladimir Putin on January 17, when the police arrested him on his arrival on Russian territory, after his long recovery in Germany. Journalist Aaron Maté shared an Amnesty email on Twitter on Tuesday explaining that“She could no longer consider Alexeï Navalny as a prisoner of conscience given that he sided with violence and discrimination and that he never changed his mind”. But the human rights organization assures it, it continues to ask “with force” his release.
This position raises questions. Navalny’s nationalist and racist past is well known. In the early 2000s, the opponent blithely shared xenophobic and anti-immigration ideas in his videos, targeting in particular the inhabitants of the Caucasus. He gradually moved away from these positions over the course of his political engagement. Above all, Navalny was already trailing this cumbersome legacy on January 17, when Amnesty International decided he was a prisoner of conscience.
So why this sudden turnaround, when the opponent continues to serve a sentence of two and a half years in prison for violating his judicial review? Alexander Artemyev, Amnesty International’s spokesperson for Central Asia and the North Caucasus, explains that the organization has received a flood of requests to strip Navalny of this title. So the legal department looked into the statements of the Russian opponent in the 2000s and concluded that his words corresponded to a “Hate speech” incompatible with the qualifier of prisoner of conscience. To justify himself, Alexander Artemyev recalls that Amnesty had withdrawn this status from Nelson Mandela in the 60s, when he defended the use of force against the South African apartheid regime.
The Amnesty spokesperson also told several media, dont Mediazone, an independent news site, which “Felt that requests to remove Navalny from the list of prisoners of conscience were part of a coordinated campaign to discredit him abroad.” Another interlocutor within the NGO rejects the responsibility on several collaborators linked to the state channel RT, including the columnist who calls himself Katya Kazbek (it would be a pseudonym). This one posted a series of tweets in the form of a typology of the xenophobic and racist positions of Navalny, on January 19. Over 3,500 people shared it.
“Infamous propaganda center”
RT replied with an article, this Wednesday, mocking “Peremptory speculations” and insisting that Katya Kazbek is a freelance journalist, who is not employed by RT. The person mocked on Twitter the “Liberal activists” who feel that she is so powerful that she grew “The infamous Amnesty International propaganda center to cancel Navalny’s prisoner of conscience status”.
Several supporters of the Russian opponent criticized the NGO’s decision. Ivan Zhdanov, director of the Anti-Corruption Fund (FBK), the NGO created by Navalny, called “shameful” the criteria for granting the status of prisoner of conscience.
Source: Libération by www.liberation.fr.
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