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The White House said Thursday it was "deeply disappointed" over the jailing of Russian protest leader Alexei Navalny on fraud charges, calling the proceedings "politically motivated."
White House spokesman Jay Carney called on Moscow to allow for a "fair" appeal in the case and to cease its "campaign of pressure" against Russia's opposition.
"The United States is deeply disappointed and concerned by the conviction of opposition leader and anti corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny and his co-defendant," Carney said.
The spokesman said the 37-year-old Navalny and Pyotr Ofitserov had been sentenced on "politically motivated charges of embezzlement," noting "procedural shortcomings" in the case.
"We urge Russia to allow for an impartial and fair appeal of the verdict," Carney said, also calling on Moscow to "cease its campaign of pressure against individuals and groups seeking to expose corruption."
"Navalny's harsh prison sentence is the latest example of a disturbing trend of government actions aimed at suppressing dissent in civil society in Russia," he said.
Russian activists condemned the sentence for mass embezzlement as a blatant move to punish Navalny for opposing the Kremlin just as he was preparing to stand in Moscow's mayoral election.