The president of the European Council has revealed that the EU will impose sanctions against those deemed by the bloc to be responsible for the arrest and sentencing of Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny.
Relations between Moscow and Brussels have soured since the activist was allegedly poisoned. Following his arrest on January 17 for breaking the terms of a suspended sentence, the EU has threatened to take action. Over a month later, on February 22, the bloc’s 27 member states agreed to impose sanctions.
“We condemn the treatment of Alexey Navalny and we demand his immediate release,” Charles Michel said on Thursday in a video conference. “On Monday, Foreign Ministers reached a political agreement to impose restrictive measures against those responsible for his arrest and sentencing. The decision will be formalized next week, in the framework of the new EU’s Global Human Rights sanctions regime.”
On Monday, a source cited by Reuters revealed that the proposed economic restrictions would be targeted at four high-level individuals. The news agency named Investigative Committee head Alexander Bastrykin, prosecutor-general Igor Krasnov, National Guard leader Viktor Zolotov, and prison service chief Alexander Kalashnikov as four possible targets.
If the list published by Reuters is accurate, it would be a great disappointment to the opposition figure’s followers. On January 30, Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), which is registered as a foreign agent, asked newly inaugurated US President Joe Biden to sanction 35 different Russian citizens, including businessman Roman Abramovich and Minister of Health Mikhail Murashko.
This came two weeks after FBK executive manager Vladimir Ashurkov published a list of eight men he and Navalny agreed should be considered priorities for Western measures, including Agriculture Minister Dmitry Patrushev and TV host Vladimir Solovyov.
The EU has already imposed some sanctions on Russian officials following Navalny’s alleged poisoning. On October 15, the bloc placed measures on six individuals and one entity, including FSB Director Alexander Bortnikov.
“The adopted restrictive measures consist of a travel ban to the EU and an asset freeze,” the European Council explained.
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