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Amnesty International changes its rules in order to REDESIGNATE Russian activist Alexey Navalny as ‘prisoner of conscience’

Amnesty International changes its rules in order to REDESIGNATE Russian activist Alexey Navalny as ‘prisoner of conscience’
Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny is once again a “prisoner of conscience,” after Amnesty International “refined” its rules so it can selectively support or disavow comments he and others it supports have made in the past.

Navalny was “imprisoned for demanding a government that is free from corruption” and “the right to equal participation in public life for himself & his supporters,” Amnesty said on Friday, and therefore he qualifies as a prisoner of conscience – the designation the group uses for political prisoners it believes have not committed an actual crime.

Amnesty claimed it had made an “internal decision” to stop using the term for Navalny in February, “due to concerns relating to discriminatory statements he made in 2007 and 2008 which may have constituted advocacy of hatred.”

However, they said, this was used by the “Russian government and its supporters” to “further violate Navalny’s rights.”

Faced with a backlash, Amnesty officials profusely apologized to a man they thought was Navalny’s aide Leonid Volkov in a zoom call at the end of February, but said they couldn’t change the designation because it would make them look bad. Instead, they proposed to organize a “short, powerful, clear social media campaign” in favor of Navalny to “steer the conversation away” from the designation. 

The only problem was they hadn’t been speaking to Volkov, but to the notorious duo of Russian pranksters, Vovan and Lexus.

Also on rt.com ‘You don't have to worry’: Amnesty reveals it snubs inconvenient media and rights issues in prank call with ‘Navalny ally’

Two months later, Amnesty has officially backtracked. According to the organization, it will no longer exclude people from being prisoners of conscience “solely based on their conduct in the past,” as they recognize people’s “opinions and behaviour may evolve over time.”

“It is part of Amnesty’s mission to encourage people to positively embrace a human rights vision and to not suggest that they are forever trapped by their past conduct,” they said in a statement. 

When Amnesty designates someone a PoC, “this in no way involves or implies the endorsement of their views. Amnesty only concurs with opinions that are specifically consistent with the protection and promotion of human rights,” the group said. “Some of Navalny’s previous statements are reprehensible and we do not condone them in the slightest.”

In this way, Amnesty has disavowed Navalny’s previous racist comments, which include a pro-gun rights video, in which the activist presents himself as a “certified nationalist” who wants to exterminate “flies and cockroaches,” while bearded Muslim men appear in accompanying images. Despite being given the opportunity, he has never apologised for these statements.

Also on rt.com Pro-western liberal, anti-migrant nationalist, or political opportunist: Who exactly is Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny?

Amnesty claims that Navalny “has not been imprisoned for any recognizable crime,” but the Russian courts have begged to differ. Navalny had been given a suspended sentence in 2014 for embezzling 30 million rubles ($400,000) from two companies, including the French cosmetics brand Yves Rocher. In January this year, he was ruled in violation of his probation, while he was recovering in Germany from an alleged poisoning in Siberia, and sent to serve out his sentence in a prison colony. 

Amnesty’s flip-flop on Navalny was applauded by many Western figures opposed to Moscow, such as former US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul.

It was also criticized as caving in to Western political agendas and turning a blind eye to bigotry, by others.

“Great now do this for Julian Assange too, otherwise you look like an unprincipled NATO tool,tweeted former Moscow-based journalist Mark Ames. 

While Amnesty International has urged the US to drop the charges against the WikiLeaks co-founder and opposed his extradition on account of likely human rights violations, its UK chapter has explicitly stated it “does not consider” Assange to be a Prisoner of Conscience, in a letter to the Julian Assange Defence Committee (JADC) on May 17, 2019.

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