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Britain calls for immediate release of Kremlin critic Navalny

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Foreign Affairs Secretary Dominic Raab arrives at BBC Broadcasting House in London

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain called on Russia to immediately release Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, who was sentenced on Tuesday to 3-1/2 years in jail after a court ruled he had violated the terms of his parole.

Navalny, one of President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent critics, was arrested at the Russian border on Jan. 17 after returning from Germany where he had been recovering from being poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson described the ruling on Navalny as “pure cowardice” and said in a tweet https://bit.ly/2O0kGe1 it failed to meet “the most basic standards of justice”, adding Navalny must be released immediately.

“The UK calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Alexey Navalny and all of the peaceful protesters and journalists arrested over the last two weeks,” foreign minister Dominic Raab said in a separate statement.

“Today’s perverse ruling, targeting the victim of a poisoning rather than those responsible, shows Russia is failing to meet the most basic commitments expected of any responsible member of the international community,” Raab added.

(Reporting by Costas Pitas; Additional Reporting by Sabahatjahan Contractor in Bengaluru; Editing by Andrew MacAskill and Peter Cooney)

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