Guy Verhofstadt, President of the Liberal Group in the European Parliament issued the following statement following the arrests of political activists in Russia.
“I condemn the sentences handed down by a Moscow court in the cases of eight individuals arrested after the Bolotnaya Square protests in Moscow in May 2012. Andrei Barabanov, Yaroslav Belousov, Alexandra Naumova Dukhanina, Sergei Krivov, Denis Lutskevitch, Alexei Polikhovich, Artyom Savelyov, Stepan Zemin endured more than a year of detention and a politically-motivated trial marked by a lack of due process, and seven of them now face prison sentences of up to four years. This is another example of punishment of Russians for exercising their constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of speech and assembly.”
“The Olympic flame was still burning as the Russian authorities increased the pressure on its people. It’s highly deplorable to see the large number of detentions made at peaceful demonstrations in support of these defendants on Friday, February 21 and Monday, February 24. In Moscow alone nearly 800 people were detained, and political figures such as Boris Nemtsov, Ilya Yashin, Nadezhda Mityushkina and Aleksey Navalnyy were arrested and will spend up to 10 days in jail.”