McCain slams jail sentence for anti-Putin activist

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Navalny's conviction is all but certain to further harm U.S.-Russian relations already strained by differences over National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, Syria, missile defense and what Putin critics call a crack down on political opponents. Last week, a Russian court posthumously sentenced another anti-corruption whistle-blower who died in custody.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told The Hill this week that the U.S. should consider a boycott of next winter's Olympic Games in Sochi if Russia grants asylum to Snowden, who is seeking to avoid an extradition request to the U.S., where he faces espionage charges.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), the author of sanctions legislation targeting Russian human-rights abusers, joined McCain in denouncing the verdict.

“Today's political conviction of Alexei Navalny continues Russia's turn back to the darker days of the Soviet Union when courts were weapons of tyranny rather than legitimate defenders of the rule of law,” Cardin said. “Like others throughout history, Navalny is a man fighting to free the country he loves.

“Trumped up charges and sham verdicts of political opponents, critics, and individuals who simply want to see a better future for their country, will only embolden, not end, the growing campaigns to name and shame corrupt officials and those who blatantly betray the trust of the Russian people,” Cardin added. “No one is fooled by the games being played here. Navalny must be released free and unharmed.”

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