Call on MEPs to Support Sanctions Against Those Responsible in Navalny Case

On 21 January, the European Parliament will decide on a resolution on sanctions against people responsible for the ongoing attack on the Russian opposition politician Alexey Navalny. Alexey Navalny risks being put in a penal colony on a conviction that was found to be “arbitrary and manifestly unreasonable” by the European Court of Human Rights in 2017.

Navalny, who was poisoned with a Novichok-class nerve agent in August 2020, was detained on arrival at Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport on 17 January. He returned from Germany where he spent the last five months recovering from the attempt on his life. Despite being present during Navalny’s arrest, his attorney was not allowed to accompany or consult him.

The following day, a judge of the Khimky City Court approved the extension of his detention to 30 days. Navalny and his attorneys were not informed in advance about the scheduling of the hearing. The hearing took place at the Khimky police station and no independent journalist or observer was allowed to attend. Some of Navalny’s supporters who wanted to observe the process were detained as well as a journalist.

Navalny’s plane back from Germany was redirected from its original destination to another airport on the opposite side of Moscow. Navalny’s supporters, independent observers and journalists were therefore unable to meet him upon his arrival. Instead, dozens of people in Vnukovo were detained, some even injured, by law enforcement. The Russian authorities’ unjustified actions confirm the already existing suspicions about the political nature of this case.

A number of people have already been subjected to sanctions by the Council of the European Union for their alleged participation in the attempt on Navalny’s life. Among others, the director of the Russian Security Service (FSB) was included on the list, due to FSB’s alleged involvement in the assassination attempt.

Navalny’s arrest was carried out in violation of his right to a fair trial and legal defence. The new sanctions will target those involved in his incarceration, and responsible for repressing other people that are critical to the regime. The list might include eight people, among others Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich, named by Navalny’s colleague Vladimir Ashurkov as “one of the key enablers and beneficiaries of Russian kleptocracy, with significant ties and assets in the West.”

The resolution includes a call on the Russian authorities to stop the crackdown on civil society, the opposition, human rights defenders and activists. Civil Rights Defenders has previously highlighted these worrying trends in our statements on the foreign agents law and the law on undesirable organisations. Navalny is one of the most prominent opposition leaders in the country, convicting him is yet another example of how the Russian authorities are closing the space for critical voices in the country.

Civil Right Defenders strongly condemns the arrest of Alexey Navalny and the ongoing human rights violations in his case. We urge the Swedish members of the European parliament to support the resolution and call on the Russian authorities to fully comply with their international commitments.

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