EU foreign ministers have reached an agreement to work on sanctions against Russia in connection with the arrest of Putin critic Alexei Navalny and the persecution of the opposition.
This was reported by the German news agency DPA, citing diplomatic sources.
“EU foreign ministers have agreed to push forward work on new sanctions against Russia following the imprisonment of opposition leader Alexei Navalny,” the statement said.
As reported, the next week should determine the legal framework and a specific list of persons to whom sanctions are applied.
The new EU sanctions mechanism for human rights violations, approved in 2020, provides for asset freezes and/or travel restrictions. The Navalny case may be the first time the European Union has involved him.
At the same time, Russian Ambassador to the EU Vladimir Chizhov said that Russia will take retaliatory measures if the European Union goes for new sanctions.
Russian court found Navalny guilty in the case of allegedly slandering a veteran. Earlier, the opposition leader was left in prison in the case of “Yves Rocher”, but was taken into account in the term of serving a sentence of 1.5 months of house arrest. Thus, in the colony, Navalny remains to spend about 2.5 years.
The discussion of new sanctions comes after EU diplomatic chief Josep Borrel was sharply criticized over a humiliating trip to Moscow when Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov used a joint press conference to humiliate the bloc.
Russia considers the demand of the European Court of Human Rights to release Alexei Navalny from custody unprecedented and claims that it is not feasible, since there are no legal grounds for it.
This was stated by the Minister of Justice of Russia Konstantin Chuichenko.
“The demand received today from the ECHR for Navalny’s release is unprecedented for several reasons. First, it is a clear and gross interference in the activities of the judicial power of a sovereign state. Secondly, this requirement is unfounded and illegal, since it does not contain any indication of a single fact or a single rule of law that would allow the court to make such a decision, ” Chuichenko said.
“Third, the requirement is deliberately unenforceable, since in accordance with Russian law there are no legal grounds for the release of this person from custody,” the Russian minister added.
Shevchenko also said that ” the European judges have made a clear political decision, which can only make it more difficult to restore constructive relations with the institutions of the Council of Europe.”
Recall that the European Court of Human Rights applied rule 39 of the Rules of Court, ordering the Russian government to immediately release Navalny from the pre-trial detention center.
Rule 39 of the ECHR Rules provides for the application of provisional measures in cases where there is a risk of causing unjustified and unavoidable harm to fundamental human rights and freedoms.
It is the first time that the ECHR obliges the state to release a detainee for the duration of a pre-trial investigation on a complaint of political persecution, even before the consideration of the merits of this complaint in Strasbourg.
Previously, demands for immediate release under “rule 39” were accepted only in cases where the detention threatened the life of suspects.
The head of EU diplomacy, Josep Borrel, said that the EU calls on Russia to “immediately” release Alexei Navalny.
The corresponding statement of the Barrel is published on the website of the European External Relations Service.
“The EU reiterates its call for the immediate and unconditional release of Navalny, as well as all citizens and journalists detained for exercising their rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of speech,” the statement said.
On February 2, the Simonovsky Court in Moscow replaced Navalny’s suspended sentence with a real one.
After that, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States called for the release of Navalny. French President Emmanuel Macron also called for Navalny’s release.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia in response to these statements noted that Moscow calls not to interfere in the internal affairs of a sovereign state.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that in the West, hysteria is going off the scale in connection with the situation with Navalny. He also noted that the media coverage of the demonstrations in Russia and in the West suffers from obvious double standards.
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielyus Landsbergis said that after the verdict of the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, the EU will immediately impose sanctions against those responsible for his persecution.
LRT TV and Radio Company reported about it.
Gabrielyus Landsbergis does not exclude the possibility that, if the discussions in the EU take time, Lithuania may apply sanctions to the people who initiated the arrest and imprisonment of the Russian opposition.
“I have to admit that this court decision did not come as a surprise. At the meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels last week, we said that there is a high probability that Vladimir Putin will do his best to keep Navalny in prison. If a real conclusion is assigned to Navalny, Europe will impose sanctions, “Landsbergis said.
“I hope this promise was realistic, so we must return to this issue immediately, without waiting for the new EU Council,” the minister added.
According to Landsbergis, he had already discussed this issue with the foreign ministers of Latvia and Estonia on Tuesday.
On February 3, the Simonovsky Court of Moscow canceled Alex Navalny’s suspended sentence in the “Yves Rocher case” and appointed him a real term of 3.5 years in a general regime penal colony.
At the same time, more than 10 months were taken from the term, which the politician spent under house arrest. This means that Navalny has to spend about 2 years and 8 months in the colony.
The court replaced oppositionist Alexei Navalny’s suspended sentence in the Yves Rocher case with a real one and sent him to a colony for 2 years and 8 months. Police detained 370 people outside the courthouse.
The Simonovsky Court of Moscow canceled Alexey Navalny’s probation in the Yves Rocher case and appointed him a real term of 3.5 years in a general regime colony. This decision was made by judge Natalya Repnikova, the correspondent of RBC reports. The judge credited Navalny’s 10 months under house arrest during the Yves Rocher investigation, using the ratio that was in force at the time of sentencing in 2014: one day of house arrest for one day in prison. If the decree comes into force, Navalny will spend 2 years and 8 months in the colony.
Navalny and his defense have 10 days to appeal the decision, the opposition’s lawyers have already announced such plans.
Prosecutor Yekaterina Frolova also asked the court to issue a private decision to the criminal executive inspectorate, which, in her opinion, did not sufficiently control the execution of the sentence by Navalny. The court issued an appropriate ruling — “to draw the attention of the head of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia to violations” committed during the control over the execution of the sentence to Navalny.
Navalny told the FSIN about his discharge from the Charite and his stay at the hotel only two months later, according to the judge’s ruling. During this period, he violated his obligations as a conditionally convicted person, the judge believes. The court found the arguments of Navalny’s defense related to the decision of the ECHR untenable: since, according to his position, Strasbourg did not speak out about the illegality of the verdict and the Presidium of the Supreme Court did not consider it to be canceled.
The meeting was held on-site in the Moscow City Court; the press is allowed on it, despite the coronavirus restrictions. In addition to journalists and Navalny’s wife Yulia, diplomats from about twenty European countries came to court. The Kremlin and the Foreign Ministry called it interference in Russia’s internal affairs.
Supporters of Navalny gathered in the vicinity of the Moscow City Court, the police blocked several streets adjacent to the building. According to OVD-Info, by 20:50 more than 370 people were detained.