European Court of Human Rights orders Russia to free Alexei Navalny

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Feb. 17 (UPI) — The European Court of Human Rights on Wednesday directed Russia to release opposition leader Alexei Navalny from prison.

The court said Navalny should immediately be granted a temporary release after he said the government “could not provide sufficient safeguards for his life and health.”

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Navalny was arrested immediately upon returning to Russia after receiving treatment for Novichok poisoning and sentenced to two and a half years in prison for violating his parole conditions earlier this month.

The court noted that Navalny’s release was based on the conditions of his imprisonment and was not a reversal of his 2014 conviction on embezzlement charges.

Despite being required to comply as a member of the Council of Europe, Russia said it would ignore the court’s decision which it described as “blatant and gross interference in the judicial affairs of a sovereign state,” The Guardian reported.

Russia’s justice minister, Konstantin Chuychenko, said the ruling was “unenforceable” adding that there was “no legal basis to free this person from custody.”

Last year, Russia amended its Constitution to prevent the implementation of international treaties that conflict with Russian law.