Moscow / Brussels (dpa) – After the arrest of the Kremlin opponent Alexej Navalny, who has returned to Moscow, the pressure on Russia is mounting.
Politicians from the EU, the US and Germany called on the Russian authorities to immediately release the 44-year-old. Human rights organization Amnesty International has classified President Vladimir Putin’s prominent opponent as a political prisoner of Russia.
Navalny was arrested on Sunday evening immediately after landing in Moscow. The Russian criminal system justified the arrest with violation of probation conditions in a previous criminal case. Therefore, Navalny was sent to be searched. He will remain in custody until the court’s decision, he said. The trial is on January 29. The Kremlin critic was last five months in Germany, where he was recovering from the attack with the neurotoxin Novichok in Russia.
“The Russian authorities must accept Alexei Navalny’s rights and release him immediately,” Josep Borrell, EU Foreign Affairs representative, said on Twitter. EU Council President Charles Michel and Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) also criticized the incarceration as illegal. The Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania also demanded the immediate release of Navalny. The arrest was “completely unacceptable”, according to a statement by the three EU and NATO countries bordering Russia. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is expected to speak about the matter at a press conference today.
Navalny described the proceedings against him as a political staging. “The truth is on my side,” he emphasized. Navalny’s team speaks of renewed attempts to silence President Vladimir Putin’s prominent opponent. They declared Putin “panic” and “hysteria”.
The prison system now wants to convert Nawalny’s suspended sentence into a real prison sentence. Russian lawyers also pointed out that Russia has violated international law in the proceedings.
Russian political scientist Tatiana Stanowaja said that the power apparatus in Moscow no longer operates according to political logic. Such an approach would not only give Navalny hero status, but also increase the potential for protest. But the secret services and security bodies didn’t care. You would see Navalny as a criminal.
Navalny had blamed Putin and the internal intelligence agency FSB for the attack on him. Putin and the FSB reject that.
Nawalny’s arrest from the US has also been criticized. “The United States strongly condemns Russia’s decision to arrest Alexei Navalny,” said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “We note with great concern that his arrest is the latest in a series of attempts to silence Navalny and other opposition and independent criticisms of the Russian authorities.” Future US security adviser Jake Sullivan called for the immediate release of Nawalny and accused the Kremlin of attacking human rights. In addition, those responsible for Navalny’s poisoning in Siberia should be held accountable on Aug. 20.
Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) described Nawalnys as “illegal”. “This man has been wronged. He has been assassinated and he must be protected by the state and not arrested, “the Treasury Secretary said in the” Bild “speech.” The right questions. “He has the right to be” as a free man by To travel to Russia and apply for political mandates “. That must not lead to” the state taking everything against him “.
Criticism also came from the Greens in the Bundestag. Group leader Katrin Göring-Eckardt wrote on Twitter: “The Kremlin is again showing clearly how it deals with opposition members and intends to intimidate critics by all means.” Manuel Sarrazin, spokesman for Eastern European policy, said: “The Kremlin and Vladimir Putin want to remove Alexei Navalny from circulation at all costs in this Duma election year.” The new parliament will be elected in September.
FDP deputy leader Alexander Graf Lambsdorff criticized the “authoritarian course of the Russian president”. Putin is leading the country into a dead end. “The federal government must insist that Nawalny’s attorneys disclose the reasons for the arrest and that he himself be treated properly.” Navalny’s lawyer received Navalny at the airport, but was not allowed to accompany him.
Navalny was treated in Germany before the attack with the neurotoxin Novitschok, which is prohibited as a chemical weapon. Russia denies that there has been a crime and therefore refuses to investigate as long as there is evidence. However, laboratories of the German armed forces, as well as in France, Sweden and at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), have proven the illegal war agent Novichok. The EU has imposed sanctions on representatives of the Russian power apparatus for the internationally criticized crime.