The foreign ministers of the European Union member states agreed in Brussels on Monday that it is necessary to impose additional sanctions against Russia. The move is seen as a response to the imprisonment of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
The final decision on the approval of sanctions could be taken at a meeting of EU leaders on 25-26 in March. Sanctions are expected to target a number of high-level Russian officials directly involved in the arrest and imprisonment of Navalny.
The list of sanctions could include the Russian Prosecutor General, the head of the Commission of Inquiry, the head of the Russian prisons, as well as the commander of the Russian Guard loyal to President Vladimir Putin, the Reuters news agency reports.
These people will be barred from entering the European Union; EU countries should also turn against their property abroad.
Proponents of Navalny also called on the European Union to impose sanctions on Russian oligarchs who support the Putin regime, but the EU has not yet decided on such a move. It would be a painful blow to the oligarchs, as many have property in Europe and travel around the EU, but they also have strong lawyers who would challenge the validity of sanctions in court. Therefore, it has been decided to turn directly against Russian state officials, which will be easier to justify.
“We made it clear when Navalny was poisoned that we were not prepared to accept violations of international law. Today we discussed whether we should issue a mandate to re-impose sanctions on Russia, especially because of the punishment imposed on Navalny and the fact that he has to serve it in the colony, “said German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.
A Moscow court on Saturday upheld the commutation of a suspended prison sentence for the actual deprivation of liberty of Russian opposition leader Navalny. He will have to serve two and a half years in prison, so the Russian authorities plan to keep him in prison until at least mid-2023. It is expected that in the coming days, Navalni will be sent to a colony to serve his sentence.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced in mid-February that Moscow would be ready to suspend relations with the European Union if new sanctions were imposed on Russia. “You want peace, prepare for war,” Lavrov said. Asked about the possible severance of relations with the EU, he replied: “If we see again, more than once, that sanctions are being imposed on certain sectors and that this poses a risk to our economy, including critical sectors, then we are ready to take such a step. . ”
The Kremlin’s opposition Navalny was detained at Moscow airport in January shortly after he returned from Germany, where he was being treated after being poisoned by Novichok. A Russian court ruled that the suspended prison sentence imposed on Navalny in 2014 should be commuted to a real deprivation of liberty. It is planned to keep him in prison until the middle of 2023. Navalny and his supporters believe the accusations are politically motivated.
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