EU foreign ministers gave the green light to impose EU sanctions on Russia in connection with the arrest of the Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny, an EU source told the Polish Press Agency (PAP).
EU Foreign ministers met in Brussels to discuss a common approach to Russia's actions against the opposition, including the latest conviction of Alexei Navalny - the head of the Russian democratic opposition. They reached a political agreement that it was necessary to start work on preparing new sanctions against the country. According to unofficial information sanctions will take the form of personal sanctions against those responsible for Navalny's arrest.
On Monday, ministers are also discussing the results of the recent visit by EU foreign minister Josep Borrell to Moscow, during which, the Russian authorities expelled three diplomats from EU countries - from Poland, Germany and Sweden. The Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergey Lavrov, strongly criticised the EU, the US and Ukraine at a press conference with Borrell. In EU capitals, this was perceived as an affront to the EU and a manifestation of Moscow's confrontational attitude. As a result, the visit was widely recognised in the EU as a failure for Borrell.
In the summer of 2020, an attempt was made to murder the leader of the Russian opposition, Navalny, with the Novichok military chemical, such a conclusion based on research was drawn by German experts. Navalny, in a state of pharmacological coma, was transported from Russia to Berlin, where he underwent treatment and rehabilitation for several months. After returning to Moscow in January, he was arrested, and on February 2, a Russian court "unsuspended” his previous sentence from 2014.
On Saturday, the court rejected Navalny's appeal in this case - he will be sent to a penal colony for 2.5 years. In addition, a court in Moscow on Saturday gave him a fine of 850,000. rubles (about 9371 EUR), finding him guilty of defamation of Ignat Artemenko, a veteran of World War II.
In October 2020, the EU imposed sanctions on six Russian officials because, in its opinion, the attempt to poison Navalny could not have taken place without the knowledge and consent of Russian state authorities. According to Politico, six more Russian officials are now to be sanctioned.
According to Navalny's associates, the new EU sanctions should target the most active businessmen who support the Kremlin. According to the president of the Foundation for Combating Corruption founded by Navalny, Vladimir Ashurkov, there are 5-10 thousand representatives of business and political elites that support the regime of President Vladimir Putin.
"If a hundred of the most visible ones lose access to their assets, real estate in the West and their families are unable to leave, these people will consider whether it is worth actively supporting the Russian regime," Ashurkov said on Saturday on Dozhd TV.