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Russian Liberal Parties Come Out In Defence Of Well Known Blogger

Alexei Navalny, Holding Up PapersMoscow, 10 May: The leader of the opposition Yabloko party, Sergey Mitrokhin, thinks that the criminal case launched against well-known Russian blogger and lawyer Aleksey Navalnyy is politically motivated.

"I think this case is politically motivated. It is connected with an attempt to discredit Aleksey for his anticorruption activities," Mitrokhin told Interfax on Tuesday (10 May).

"I will support him. If he asks for help, we will provide it, both legal and political help," the Yabloko leader said.

Asked whether Yabloko was ready to invite Navalnyy to rejoin the party (from which Navalnyy was expelled in 2007), Mitrokhin said: "We accept only those who are asking to join us. He is not asking to rejoin us".

"For nearly five years, Aleksey was my deputy in Moscow (deputy head of the Moscow branch). I never had any reason to suspect him of dishonesty, let alone propensity to crime," the Yabloko leader said.

Aleksey Navalnyy joined the Yabloko party in 2000. He was a member of the party's federal political council. From April 2004 to February 2007, he was chief of staff of the party's Moscow regional branch. In 2007 he was expelled from the party.

For his part, co-chairman of the Right Cause party Leonid Gozman thinks that the launch of the criminal case against Navalnyy is a political move.

"I do not know the details, but I am practically sure that this is a purely political attack, an attempt to gag Navalnyy," Gozman told Interfax on Tuesday.

At the same time, he thinks that criminal cases launched for political reasons negatively affect the image of the authorities in the eyes of Russians.

"As long as political opponents are being dealt with by means of criminal prosecution, the authorities will continue losing credibility and, consequently, threats to the country's stability will be increasing," he stressed.

(Passage omitted: background.)

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