The head of EU diplomacy, Josep Borrell, announced on Monday that EU foreign ministers agreed to introduce further sanctions against Russia for the imprisonment of the anti-Kremlin oppositionist Alexei Navalny.
"In response to the events of Mr Navalny's situation, we reached a political agreement to impose restrictions against those responsible for his arrest, conviction and persecution," said Josep Borrell after the EU Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels.
"In this situation, we will make use of the global sanctions system for human rights violations for the first time. The administrative procedure will start at my request today. (...) They will be introduced soon, hopefully no longer than in a week and will be approved by the Council, "he said. He also announced that EU ministers had also agreed to increase support for activists involved in Russia in the defence of civil and political liberties.
"Members of the Council share the assessment that Russia is moving towards an authoritarian state and is moving away from Europe. Ministers unanimously interpreted Russia's recent actions and reactions as a clear signal of lack of interest in cooperation with the European Union. On the contrary, Russia is interested in confronting and distancing itself," the chief of EU diplomacy said, while arguing that a modus vivendi must be found with "a neighbour who has decided to act as an adversary.
European Union foreign ministers agreed on Monday to impose sanctions on four high-ranking Russian officials. The list of persons subject to the travel ban and the freezing of assets will include: Alexander Bastrykin, the head of the Investigative Committee reporting directly to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the prosecutor general Igor Krasnov, the commander of the National Guard Viktor Zolotov and the head of the prison service (FSIN) Alexander Kalashnikov.
The EU decided not to introduce restrictions against Russian oligarchs, which was postulated by Alexei Navalny's associates.