S&D parliamentary group: New tough EU sanctions must follow if Russia does not release Alexej Navalny immediately

In today’s plenary debate, the Socialist Group in the European Parliament condemned the arrest of Alexei Navalny, one of Russia’s most influential dissidents and anti-corruption activists. Navalny was arrested on his return to Moscow after spending five months in Germany last August due to near-fatal poisoning.

The S&D group calls for a strong reaction from the EU if Navalny is not released, including tough sanctions against Russian officials. We also call on the Russian Federation to investigate the attempted murder of Navalny and the use of a banned biological warfare agent so that all those responsible for the crime are brought to justice.

The Vice-Chairperson of the S&D Group responsible for foreign policy, Kati Piri, said:

“The arrest of Alexei Navalny when he arrived in Moscow is a sign of lawlessness and testifies to Putin’s total disregard for the civil rights of his own citizens. Just four months ago, Navalny barely survived an attempted murder by the Russian domestic secret service FSB. Last Sunday he returned to his homeland in a challenging manner and was ready to jeopardize his freedom for his cause, namely to expose the corruption of this regime. After Putin failed to kill him, the arrest of Nawalny is another desperate attempt to silence his greatest critic.

The EU must hold the Kremlin accountable. We need to go beyond the sanctions we imposed following Navalny’s poisoning and discuss new sanctions that will have to be imposed if Navalny is not released immediately. The EU must show a courageous reaction to Russia’s autocratic regime. It is time for us to show bravery too. “

Isabel Santos, human rights spokesperson for the S&D group and negotiator for the resolution on Navalny, said:

“Navalny’s arrest can only be seen as a new cynical attempt to silence one of the most prominent critics of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Unfortunately, he’s not the first. Nemtsov, Politkovskaya, Yuschenkov … the list of Russian opponents of the regime who were silenced is long. We cannot allow Navalny to be added to that shameful list.

After surviving two attempts at poisoning, Navalny is now back in custody, while those responsible for his poisoning remain at large. That is an affront to the European Union and the entire international community.

The European Union must demand from Russia the immediate and unconditional release of Navalny and a thorough and effective investigation into his poisoning. If the Russian authorities do nothing, we must extend our sanctions to all parties involved. “

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