The relations between the European Union and Russia cannot be limited to the Navalny case since the EU has to conduct a dialogue with Moscow on other important issues, such as the situation in Ukraine, European Commission foreign policy spokesman Peter Stano said on Monday. https://www.eudebates.tv/debates/eu-policies/enlargement-and-foreign-affairs/eu-demands-from-russia-immediate-release-of-alexei-navalny/
Russian opposition politician Alexey Navalny returned to Russia on Sunday after receiving treatment in Germany following a suspected poisoning in Siberia. Berlin claims that German doctors found evidence of poisoning with a nerve agent from the Novichok group in Navalny's body, which is refuted by Moscow. Navalny was detained at a Moscow airport upon arrival over multiple violations of probation.
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"The EU-Russian relations can not be reduced only on the question of Mr. Navalny, remembered that we have also the situation in Ukraine, that we have to deal with Russia when it comes to the full implementation of the Minsk accords," Stano said at a press briefing.
The spokesman refused to comment on the EU position regarding the implementation of fresh sanctions over the recent detainment of Navalny, stressing that the bloc's sanction policy was designed in confidence.
"This is a process that takes place in the confidentiality and there is no point in trying to discuss the partial elements of this process in the public," Stano said.
The spokesman added that the relations between the EU and Russia were based on five guiding principles laid out in 2016.
"There are five guiding principles of the EU-Russia relations currently. These guiding principles have been defined back in 2016. They have not changed," Stano said.
In March 2016, the EU defined five guiding principles for EU-Russian relations. The bloc reaffirmed its commitment to the full implementation of the Minsk accords and strengthening ties with former Soviet republics. Furthermore, the EU announced that it would repel threats posed by Russia, cooperate with Moscow on certain issues, including the fight against terrorism, and promote dialogue between the European and Russian people.
European Council president Charles Michel also condemned the detention of Navalny and urged the Russian authorities to free him. https://www.eudebates.tv/debates/eu-policies/enlargement-and-foreign-affairs/eu-demands-from-russia-immediate-release-of-alexei-navalny/
"The detainment of Alexey Navalny upon arrival in Moscow is unacceptable. I call on Russian authorities to immediately release him," Michel wrote on Twitter.
The EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell echoed the calls.
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"Russian authorities must respect Alexei Navalny's rights and release him immediately. Politicisation of the judiciary is unacceptable," Borrell tweeted.
The poisoning of Navalny has fuelled tensions between the bloc and its eastern neighbour.
In December, Germany was hit with what it called "unjustified" tit-for-tat sanctions by Russia over penalties imposed by the EU following the poisoning.
Moscow issued travel bans against several EU representatives after Brussels imposed sanctions on six Russian officials over the poisoning.
Figures close to the Kremlin feature prominently on the list of the six, who the EU said were responsible in some way for the poisoning of Navalny due to the functions they held.
"France notes the arrest of Mr Alexei Navalny in Russia with very strong concern," the French foreign ministry said in a statement.
"Along with its European partners, it is following his situation with the greatest vigilance and calls for his immediate release."
Lithuania's Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis has called for EU sanctions against Moscow, while Amnesty International accused Russian authorities of waging "a relentless campaign" to silence Navalny.
Leaders from the United States and European Union have called for the immediate release of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, who was detained on arrival at a Moscow airport on Sunday (Jan 17) after he flew home to Russia from Germany for the first time since he was poisoned last summer.
United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday that the US "strongly condemns" the arrest of Navalny.
"We note with grave concern that his detention is the latest in a series of attempts to silence Navalny and other opposition figures and independent voices who are critical of Russian authorities," he added.
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Navalny was detained at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport less than an hour after he flew in from Germany, where he had been recovering from the poisoning with a nerve agent he says was ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin.