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World Leaders Demand Mr. Navalny's Release From Prison, EU Weighs New Sanctions


Russian opposition leader Mr. Alexey Navalny and his wife Yulia seconds before crossing the border at Moscow Sheremetyevo airport on Jan 17, 2020. (AFP)

Western leaders and human rights organisations called upon the Russian authorities to release opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who returned to Russia from Germany on Sunday and was detained immediately upon arrival in Moscow.

European Union Parliament will discuss today illegal imprisonment of Mr. Navalny and the EU Foreign Ministers will consider new sanctions on Russia next week.

Russian Federal Penitentiary Service claims that Mr. Navalny, who was treated in Germany after the poisoning, violated the rules of the probationary period, and is requesting to replace the suspended sentence in a criminal case with a real one - 3.5 years in prison.

The FSIN argues that he will remain in custody pending trial as he is prevented, according to the law, such a trial must be held within 48 hours. The court to replace the suspended sentence with a real one is scheduled for January 29.

Mr. Navalny knew that he could be detained, but did not abandon plans to return to Russia. In a short speech to reporters at an airport in Moscow, he said that he was not afraid.

Human rights organizations consider Mr. Navalny's persecution politically motivated. Amnesty International said it considers Navalny a prisoner of conscience and that his detention is an attempt by the Russian authorities to silence him. Human Rights Watch also called on Navalny to be released, calling his persecution politically motivated.


Russian border police and the criminal police is arresting Mr. Navalny at the passport control post at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow on Jan 17, 2020. (AFP)

European Council President Charles Michel called Navalny's detention "unacceptable" and called for his release. EU Foreign Minister Josep Borrell made the same appeal.

Western politicians express solidarity with Mr. Navalny

The detention of Mr. Navalny was condemned by the foreign ministers of the Baltic states. Their joint statement says that the European Union should consider the issue of sanctions against Russia if the oppositionist is not released.

Other European politicians also called on to release Navalny. The Polish Foreign Minister expressed words of solidarity in Russian.

Vice-Chancellor of Germany Olaf Scholz called Navalny's detention illegal. The man was treated unfairly. An attempt was made on his life, the state had to protect, not detain him, Mr. Scholz said.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on the Russian authorities to immediately release Alexei Navalny. Confident political leaders are not afraid of the voices of their rivals, do not use violence against their political opponents and do not arrange illegal arrests, Mr. Pompeo said.

The Chancellor's security service and the police has accompanied Mr. Navalny to the plane at the Berlin airport on Jan 17, 2020. (AFP)


Mr. Jake Sullivan, National Security Advisor to President-elect Joe Biden, condemned Mr. Navalny's detention, calling it an insult to Russian citizens who want their voice to be heard. He also called for an investigation into the poisoning of the opposition leader.

The global leaders of the pro-democracy opposition demand Mr.Navalny's release

Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya also spoke out in support of the Russian opposition. An Interim President of Venezuela also expressed his support saying that Putin regime's is one of the main allies of Maduro that violate human rights. We raise our voices for his release and we ask the free world to act together in his defense, and against the persecution of dissent, Mr. Guaido stressed.

Russian regime pretends not knowing of anything

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Sunday evening that he was not aware of what happened to Navalny. I beg your pardon. Was he detained in Germany? - he answered the question of journalists.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova responded to the statements of Western politicians as follows: Respect international law, do not encroach on the national legislation of sovereign states and deal with problems in your own country.


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