MEPs extremely concerned by the arrest Mr Alexei Navalny
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MEPs extremely concerned by the arrest Mr Alexei Navalny

Statement by the Chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, David McAllister, and the European Parliament’s standing rapporteur on Russia, Andrius Kubilius, on the arrest of Alexei Navalny.

“We are extremely concerned by the arrest of Mr Alexei Navalny, performed yesterday evening upon his return to Russia, as well as by the detention of several dozens of his supporters across the country. The arrest of Mr Navalny and its modalities clearly contravene international law and the Russian Constitution.

First of all, it is based on the findings of a Russian court’s judgement that has been declared by the European Court of Human Rights as flawed with arbitrariness and in breach of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

Second, Mr Navalny has been detained for failing to comply with a Russian court order obliging him to report to the competent Russian penitentiary authorities while he was seriously ill and undergoing medical treatment in Germany following his poisoning last August.

Finally, Mr Navalny has been denied the right to meet with his lawyer, which is a blatant breach of Article 48(2) of the Russian Constitution, and has been heard in a police station before an extraordinary court, in likely breach of Article 118 of the Russian Constitution.

We therefore urge the Russian authorities to free Mr Navalny and his supporters immediately and to ensure that their rights are fully and unconditionally respected and enforced.

We note that yesterday’s events are an extremely concerning development likely to deteriorate the already strained relations between the European Union (EU) and Russia. Therefore, we call on all those who care about those relations, including within the Russian government, to exert their authority and influence to achieve the immediate release of Mr Navalny and his supporters and avoid that similar cases happen in the future.

The recent example of Belarus shows that illegal arrests of political and anti-corruption activists are a clear sign of the weakness of a failing regime and stand in stark contrast with the extreme courage and bravery of those arrested. The Russian authorities should therefore realise that jailing activists and the opposition serves the interests of no one, including themselves.

We call on the EU to reinforce the sanctions applied to Russian officials involved in the poisoning of Mr Navalny and to enlarge their scope. We remind in this context that as of December 2020 the EU has the instrument of the Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime, the so-called European Magnitsky Act, and shall not hesitate to use it when necessary.

The European Union is ready to cooperate with the new administration of the United States under President Joe Biden in the preparation of the Global Democracy Summit, in order to strengthen the protection of democracy values and the rights and freedoms of people against the oppression of authoritarian regimes. The European Parliament stands by the Russian people in their fight for fundamental freedoms, human rights and democracy.”