MOSCOW, July 19 (RIA Novosti) – President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman on Friday responded evasively to a question of whether convicted opposition leader and anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny could be pardoned.
“A convict first has to admit his guilt,” Dmitry Peskov said, adding that Putin was aware of the “Navalny situation” but there would be no comment from him.
Earlier on Friday, a Russian court released Navalny from custody until he would have to begin serving a five-year prison sentence handed down to him the day before for masterminding a 2009 embezzlement scheme involving a state-owned timber supply company in the Kirov Region.
“The president does not and cannot assess court rulings. Court rulings must be respected. That’s the law,” Peskov said.
He added that “constructive criticism” of the president is always welcome but “insults are unacceptable.”
Navalny has denied the charges, claiming that the case against him was politically motivated and orchestrated by the Kremlin in retaliation for his role in organizing a series of massive public protests against Putin.