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EU calls on Russia to release Alexey Navalny

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell due to visit Moscow in February to discuss contentious issues

Agnes Szucs   | 25.01.2021
EU calls on Russia to release Alexey Navalny

BRUSSELS

The European Union on Monday condemned Russian authorities’ crackdown on the supporters of opposition leader Alexey Navalny and called for the release of everyone detained.

“The EU calls on Russia to release Mr. Navalny and those detained,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters following a meeting of EU foreign ministers.

The bloc considers the crackdown on Navalny’s supporters “completely unacceptable, condemns the mass detentions and police brutality,” he said.

He also confirmed his visit to Moscow in the first week of February.

“I don’t share the opinion where you don’t talk when things go bad. Right the contrary, this is the moment when you need to talk,” he explained, promising that he would raise a range of contentious issues with Russia, including the case of Navalny and the crackdown on civil society.

The foreign ministers made no decision on imposing sanctions against Russia in relation to the Navalny case since there was no proposal on the table, Borrell explained.

However, he promised to “take actions if circumstances require.”

After receiving treatment in Germany for poisoning, Navalny, 44, was arrested in Moscow upon his return on Jan. 17. Russian authorities said he had violated probation from a suspended sentence on a 2014 money laundering offense, a case Navalny says is "politically motivated."

Less than 25 hours after his return, Moscow's Khimki Court ruled that Navalny would remain in custody on 30-day pre-trial detention.

Tens of thousands gathered in Russia on Saturday to protest Navalny's detention and demand his immediate release. Many were detained amid harsh police measures on demonstrations.

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