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Russia arrests rights activist Navalny: UN rights body airs concern

camera_altRussian Opposition leader Alexei Navalny (file image)

United Nations: Following the Russian opposition campaigner Aleksei Navalny's arrest on Sunday, the UN human rights office has expressed concern and asked for his immediate release.

Navalny, who had been away in Germany, and undergoing treatment after being poisoned, arrived by a low-cost airline in Moscow, but not before his flight was diverted to a different airport. Soon after his arrival, and reporting at the passport control he was arrested by two uniformed policemen in black masks.

Navalny chose to return to Russia and brave the possible Kremlin action rather than stay in the relatively secure German land. His arrival was greeted by hundreds of supporters at the Sheremetyevo airport, but an equal number of people had gathered at the airport he was expected to have arrived too.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on Monday remarked on Twitter that it was "deeply troubled" by Navalny's arrest and asked the Russian government to respect his right to legal due process.

Two independent UN human rights experts issued a statement issued later in the day and hailed the bravery of the anti-Kremlin activist whose campaign against corruption of Russia's ruling elite had triggered enough official ire and now attracted punitive detention. The UN body also asked the Russian regime to ensure that his life and well-being were ensured.

UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Agnes Callamardm, and Special Rapporteur Irene Khan, who handled the right to freedom of opinion and expression, said it was "appalling that Navalny was arrested for breaching parole terms, for a sentence he should not have received in the first place and despite the authorities being fully aware that he had been several months in Germany recovering from an attempt on his life".

OHCHR said in the press release that it was believed Navalny's arrest was related to alleged violations of a suspended sentence for a fraud conviction following proceedings that the European Court of Human Rights said in 2018, were arbitrary and unfair.

The Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia said charged that Navalny missed regular check-ins, required for his suspended sentence, without a valid reason.

In August last year, Navalny fell seriously ill while on board a domestic flight from the town of Tomsk in Siberia to Moscow. After remaining in coma for two weeks, he was air-lifted to Berlin for treatment, after Russian authorities gave permission for it.

Several weeks later, the German government reported that tests conducted by a special military laboratory revealed he had been poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent. Novichok is the name of a group of seven toxic chemical agents developed by the former Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s.

On arrival, Navalny said his return to Russia was the happiest moment in his life of the past five months.

Special Rapporteurs and independent experts are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a country situation.

(With PTI input)

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TAGS:Aleksei Navalny Russian democratic activist UN body concern Arrest on airport arrival 
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