• Sat. Oct 29th, 2022

Western nations tell Russia to immediately free detained Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, a day after he was detained at a Moscow airport after flying home for the first time since he was poisoned last summer.

Jan 18, 2021

Western nations have told Russia to immediately free detained Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, a day after he was detained at a Moscow airport after flying home for the first time since he was poisoned last summer.
Key points:

  • Russia said Mr Navalny was taken into custody over alleged violations of a suspended prison sentence
  • The foreign ministers of Germany, Britain, France and Italy called for his release
  • Mr Navalny’s case could trigger new sanctions against Russia

Russia quickly rejected the calls, telling critics to mind their own business as police continued to hold Mr Navalny in a Moscow police station.
“Respect international law, do not encroach on national legislation of sovereign states and address problems in your own country,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote on Facebook.
Mr Navalny’s case could trigger new sanctions against Russia, especially against an $11.6 billion ($15.13 billion) project to build a natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, with some EU countries saying they want the bloc to swiftly impose such measures.
Four masked police officers detained the opposition politician at passport control on Sunday evening, the first time he had returned home after being poisoned by what German military tests showed was a Novichok nerve agent a version of events the Kremlin rejects.
Police detain Alexei Navalny upon his arrival in Moscow
Russia’s prison service said he had been taken into custody due to alleged violations of a suspended prison sentence that Mr Navalny, 44, said was trumped up.
It said he would be held in custody until a court hearing expected on January 29 that will rule whether to convert that suspended sentence into a real 3.5-year jail term.
The foreign ministers of Germany, Britain, France and Italy called for Mr Navalny’s release.
“Russia is bound by its own constitution and by international obligations to the principle of the rule of law and to the protection of civil rights,” Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said.
“These principles must, of course, be applied to Alexei Navalny as well. He should be released immediately.”
Britain is also worried about the safety of Mr Navalny.
Here are five quick questions about Novichok, what it does, and what we know about this latest case.
British Vaccine Deployment Minister Nadhim Zahawi said on Monday, local time: “The Foreign Secretary will say more about this, but we are very worried about the wellbeing and safety of Alexei Navalny.”
“And of course, we have to make sure that the Russian government answers why a poison was used against Alexei Navalny,” Mr Zahawi told Sky News.
Lithuania said it would ask the EU to swiftly impose new sanctions on Russia.
Czech Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek said he wanted the bloc to discuss possible sanctions.
Jake Sullivan, one of US president-elect Joe Biden’s top aides, told Moscow to free Mr Navalny, and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Twitter he was deeply troubled by Moscow’s decision to arrest Mr Navalny.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov dismissed Western consternation over the case, casting it as an attempt to distract from the West’s own problems.
“You can feel the joy with which these comments [on Navalny’s arrest] are coming out,” Mr Lavrov said.
“Judging by everything, it allows Western politicians to think that by doing this they can divert attention away from the deep crisis that the liberal model of development finds itself in,” he said.
Reuters/ABC