Amnesty International apologized to jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny for depriving him of his “prisoner of conscience” status and said it would reinstate his designation.
Amnesty announced on February 24 that it would stop labeling Russia’s most prominent opposition activist as a prisoner of conscience on the grounds that in the past he had made comments that qualified as pleading hate.
“After careful evaluation, Amnesty International has decided to re-appoint Alexei Navalny as ‘prisoner of conscience’,” he said in a statement sent to Reuters.
Amnesty said the Russian government and its supporters used the February 24 decision to further violate the rights of Navalny, a vocal critic of President Vladimir Putin.
The 44-year-old Russian opposition politician was arrested in January and sentenced to prison for parole violations he called trumped up.
“Amnesty International made a bad decision … and apologizes for the negative effects it had on Alexei Navalny personally, and on activists in Russia and around the world who tirelessly campaign for his freedom,” he said. declared.
Leonid Volkov, Navalny’s chief of staff, said on Twitter that “the ability to recognize mistakes and move on is the most important thing that sets normal people apart from Putin.”
The Russian government was closed for a national holiday.
Navalny has been criticized for his past nationalist statements against illegal immigration and for attending an annual nationalist march several years ago.
Amnesty said it had reviewed its process of designating people as prisoners of conscience and would no longer withdraw the designation based solely on their past conduct.
“Some of Navalny’s previous statements are reprehensible and we do not tolerate them at all… in upholding Navalny’s status as (a) prisoner of conscience, we do not endorse his political agenda, but stress the urgency of his rights ”, mentioned.
Navalny was arrested shortly after returning from Germany, where he received treatment for novichok poisoning which he and the Bellingcat investigative collective traced to the FSB.
He recently went on a 24-day hunger strike to demand appropriate medical treatment for back pain and numbness in the legs and hands.