The EU’s demands for the immediate release of the Kremlin critic Alexej Navalny have so far had no effect. The foreign ministers are now drawing conclusions.
The EU is launching new sanctions against Russia for the detention of the Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. According to diplomats, four Russian officials are to be punished. The EU foreign ministers had previously made a decision in principle on the sanctions, which must be specifically decided again.
The EU wants to use its new legal sanctions framework against human rights violations for the first time, as a diplomat said after the ministerial discussions on Russia. The punitive measures could include asset freezes and EU entry bans. Austria’s Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg had said before the meeting that he expected “the green light for further targeted sanctions against persons from the police and judicial apparatus”.
Heiko Maas: The Federal Foreign Minister has spoken out in favor of new punitive measures against Russia. (Source: dpa)
Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) and others had previously clearly spoken out in favor of new punitive measures. “When Navalny was poisoned, we made it clear that we are not prepared to accept a breach of international law and have imposed sanctions,” said the SPD politician in Brussels on Monday.
EU calls for the release of the Kremlin critic
In particular, due to the conviction of Nawalny and the fact that he had to spend his imprisonment in a penal camp, the question of sanctions now arises again. “I am in favor of giving the order here to prepare such sanctions and listings of individuals,” said Maas.
In the Navalny case, the EU has been demanding the release of the Kremlin critic for about three weeks now, without success. Moscow rejects this as interference in internal affairs. The 44-year-old was convicted in Moscow at the beginning of February because, in the judge’s view, he repeatedly violated probation conditions in previous criminal proceedings in 2014 for fraud and misappropriation of funds.
Navalny arrested after being poisoned
In an appeal process last Saturday, the judiciary confirmed the imprisonment in a prison camp. Also on Saturday, Navalny was sentenced to a fine for allegedly insulting a World War II veteran.
The opposition politician decided to return to his home country in January, even though he was the victim of an attack there with the neurotoxin Novichok, which is banned as a chemical weapon. He was then arrested on arrival.
Because of the attack on Navalny, which was then dealt with in Germany, the EU already imposed entry and property bans on people suspected of being responsible for President Vladimir Putin last year. In Brussels, it is assumed that government agencies in Russia are behind the attack.
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