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Council Of Europe Urges Russia To Let Navalny Run For President

Aleksei Navalny speaks at a rally of supporters in Murmansk on September 15.
Aleksei Navalny speaks at a rally of supporters in Murmansk on September 15.

The Council of Europe's decision-making body, the Committee of Ministers, says Russian authorities continue to violate the rights of opposition leader Aleksei Navalny, and has urged Russia allow Navalny to "stand for election" for the Russian presidency.

The Committee of Ministers on September 21 said Navalny "continues to suffer the consequences of [his] arbitrary and unfair" conviction despite a February ruling by the European Court for Human Rights that deemed the case against Navalny and his co-defendant "unreasonable."

The Russian Justice Ministry responded to the committee's statement by accusing the Council of Europe of "stepping beyond" its authority and trying to "exert political pressure" on Russian authorities ahead of campaigning for the country's May 2018 presidential election.

The committee's statement refers to Navalny's conviction upon retrial in a financial-crimes case under which he initially received a five-year suspended sentence.

Russian authorities say the conviction bars Navalny from public office.

Navalny denies wrongdoing, saying the case is politically motivated retribution for his anticorruption campaigning and his opposition to President Vladimir Putin.

Navalny is an outspoken critic of Putin, who has held power as prime minister or president since the end of 1999.

Putin is widely expected to seek and win another six-year term as president in the May 2018 vote.

The Committee of Ministers comprises the foreign ministers of all 47 Council of Europe member states or their permanent diplomatic representatives in Strasbourg.

Its stated aim is to uphold human rights, democracy, and the rule of law in Europe.

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