The conviction and sentencing of Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny have been condemned by prominent figures in Russia and the West following the conclusion of his highly criticized embezzlement trial.
Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev said the trial showed that Russia’s courts are not independent.
"[U]nfortunately, this confirms our lack of an independent judiciary," Gorbachev said. "Without going into details, I want to say that this has left a very bad impression."
Aleksei Kudrin, Russia's former finance minister and a friend of President Vladimir Putin, wrote via Twitter that Navalny’s five-year sentence appeared aimed at "isolating him from public life" and the Moscow mayoral election.
Kudrin also wrote that the conviction "is an example of our selective justice."
The U.S. State Department called the trial an "abuse of due process" that was "apparently politically motivated."
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said: "This outcome, given the procedural shortcomings, raises serious questions as to the state of the rule of law in Russia."
Human Rights Watch's (HRW) deputy director for Europe and Central Asia, Rachel Denber, called the verdict
"the culmination of a criminal prosecution brought for political reasons with a preordained conclusion."
Watchdog Amnesty International called for Navalny's "immediate release,"
citing Navalny's own characterization of the process as a "parody" trial.
"From the start there were clear indications that the criminal prosecution of Aleksei Navalny was politically motivated and based on highly questionable charges of embezzlement," the group quoted its Europe and Central Asia director, John Dalhuisen, as saying. "This was not a fair trial, the charges didn’t add up and expert evidence was excluded. Any retrial must address these glaring deficiencies."
With reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, ITAR-TASS, and RFE/RL