Russia rejects European Court’s decision to release Navalny

ROME / MOSCOW — Russian Justice Minister Konstantin Chuychenko rejected the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights calling for the immediate release of Russian dissident Alexei Navalny, saying it was an unprecedented interference in the work of Russian courts.

Chuychenko argued that the court’s ruling was illegal and had no basis in Russian law and said there was no way for the Court to enforce its decision.

The ECHR said in a statement that it had taken into account the nature and extent of the risk to Navalny’s life in light of the general circumstances of his current detention, noting that Russia must respect its decision as it has signed the European Convention on the Protection of Human Rights.

The arrest of Navalny has prompted swift reactions and calls for new sanctions against Russia in Western circles, as well as thousands of demonstrators taking to the streets of Moscow and other Russian cities to demand his release.

Navalny, 44, is an outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent critic. He was arrested last month after voluntarily returning from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from a nerve-agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin. An accusation which Russian authorities reject.

A Moscow court sentenced Navalny earlier this month to two years and eight months in prison for violating terms of his probation while recuperating in Germany.