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Amnesty International and Alexej Navalny: status as »prisoner of conscience« revoked

2021-02-27T20:40:41.968Z

Amnesty International wants to continue to stand up for Alexei Navalny, but suddenly expresses doubts about his non-violence. Has the human rights organization been a victim of Russian influence?



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Demonstrator with Navalny poster: One for all and all for one

Photo: Dmitri Lovetsky / AP

Whoever has the damage need not worry about the mockery.

The human rights organization Amnesty International (AI) learned this recently.

First, with strange decisions, she aroused doubts about her support for Alexei Navalny, currently the most prominent political prisoner in Russia.

That damaged their reputation.

The ridicule came shortly afterwards from Russian telephone scammers who were loyal to the Kremlin, who embarrassed the Amnesty leaders and published it.

The man at issue needs the protection of human rights activists more urgently than seldom before.

At the moment, not even Nawalny's whereabouts are known.

He is somewhere on his way through the Russian prison system to serve a multi-year prison sentence for alleged "fraud".

In any case, he is no longer in the "Sailor Rest" remand prison, where he was previously held, his lawyers learned on Thursday.

"Prisoner of Conscience" status revoked

Amnesty International protested loudly in January against the imprisonment of Navalny as soon as he returned from Germany - where he had recovered from a poison attack with the nerve agent Novichok.

"After his arrest, Navalny will become a prisoner of conscience on arrival in Moscow," said the organization's press release.

"Prisoner of conscience" is a term that AI founder Peter Benenson coined more than half a century ago.

It refers to prisoners of conscience - people who are persecuted for following their conscience.

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But just a month later, AI appeared to have curtailed its support for Navalny.

The human rights organization calls his persecution politically motivated and demands his release.

But "in the light of new information that has recently emerged," the organization sees itself "unable to continue to regard Alexei Navalny as a prisoner of conscience, due to the fact that he advocated violence and discrimination and never withdrew these statements."

So it is apparently in a letter from AI's British department, which the left-wing US journalist Aaron Maté published on Twitter, and a Moscow AI spokesman confirmed it to several media outlets.

Alexander Artemjew said that the legal department and the political department had checked earlier statements by Navalny from the mid-2000s and classified them as "hate speech."

That is why the expression "prisoner of conscience" will no longer be applied to Navalny.

A campaign could be behind the decision

But what new information about Navalny emerged after January 17th that would not have been known long ago?

That is the question that AI does not give a correct answer to.

It is known that Navalny began his political career as a nationalist, and during this time he not only took part in marches by nationalists and right-wing extremists, but also published two ugly YouTube videos in which, among other things, he compared immigrants to cockroaches.

He has been accused of these misconduct since then.

Navalny later never apologized for these films and assured in an interview in 2017 that he did not regret them.

On the other hand, it is also known that such radical nationalist tones have not been heard from Navalny for years.

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Alexei Navalny in court in Moscow: he has never apologized for his misconduct

Photo: Moscow City Court / imago images / ITAR-TASS

But why were the long-known videos viewed in a new light after Navalny's return and arrest?

Apparently there were numerous complaints within AI - and "one got the impression that the requests to examine Navalny's statements were part of a coordinated campaign to discredit him abroad," said AI spokesman Artemyev.

Now it turns out that the concept of the »prisoner of conscience« is very unwieldy in everyday life.

"This old term falls a little on our feet," says Peter Franck, who is responsible for Russia at AI Germany.

It is unclear how strictly it should be interpreted.

In the past, AI had called not only Navalny but even the Russian oppositionist Eduard Limonov as prisoners of conscience.

The national Bolshevik and writer was never known for non-violence and had taken part, weapon in hand, in the siege of Sarajevo by Bosnian Serb troops.

In any case, the granting and subsequent revocation of the status not only damaged AI, but also the Navalny cause.

Phone fraudsters publish Zoom conversation with general secretary

In Russia, on the other hand, Navalny's opponents are happy and have provided the necessary scorn and ridicule.

Two "pranksters" or telephone fraudsters who are known throughout Russia and who call celebrities with a false identity and induce them to make careless statements have tried their luck with the AI ​​top in London.

The couple - known as Wowan and Lexus - posted a quarter-hour video of a Zoom call with AI Secretary General Julie Verhaar and two other senior executives.

One of the two had pretended to be Navalny's close comrade Leonid Volkov.

"This Zoom call alone is reason enough, in my opinion, to declare the Amnesty leadership incapable," commented the real Leonid Volkov.

"You cannot run a charitable foundation with an annual budget of 300 million euros in 2021 (!) And allow yourself to be fooled and humiliated in the process."

"That Zoom call alone is reason enough, in my opinion, to declare the Amnesty leadership incompetent."

Leonid Volkov

Wowan and Lexus, real names Vladimir Kuznetsov and Alexej Stolyarov, have been using this scam against foreign politicians and opponents of the Kremlin for years.

At times they had their own program on the NTW television station.

After one of her phone pranks, President Vladimir Putin described her as "harmless" and protected her.

Amnesty International, meanwhile, denies the allegation that it bowed to a campaign by RT journalists or other Russian influences.

You base your decisions "not on Twitter threads or the lobbying of journalists or government supporters," announced the organization.

“There shouldn't be any confusion that Navalny has not said anything in the past to justify his current imprisonment.

This is purely politically motivated. "

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Assistance: Ricarda Richter

Source: spiegel

All news articles on 2021-02-27

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