In today’s plenary debate, the Socialists and Democrats strongly 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 having spent five months in Germany recovering from a near-deadly poisoning last August.
The S&D Group calls for a strong EU reaction, including serious sanctions against Russian officials, if Navalny is not released. We also urge the Russian Federation to investigate Navalny’s assassination attempt and the use of a prohibited chemical weapon, so that all people responsible for this crime are held accountable.
S&D vice-president responsible for foreign affairs, Kati Piri MEP, said:
“The arrest of Alexei Navalny, upon his return to Moscow, is a show of lawlessness and of Putin’s utter contempt for the civil rights of his own citizens. Just four months ago, Navalny barely survived an FSB assassination attempt. Last Sunday, he returned home defiant, and willing to risk his freedom for his cause: to display the corruption of this regime. After Putin’s failure to kill him, Navalny’s arrest is yet another of Putin’s desperate attempts to silence his greatest critic.
“The EU must hold the Kremlin to account. We must move beyond the sanctions we imposed after Navalny’s poisoning and discuss a new serious set of sanctions to be imposed if Navalny is not immediately released. The EU must be bold in its response to the autocratic Russian regime. It is time we, too, show bravery.”
Isabel Santos, S&D spokesperson on human rights and negotiator of the resolution on Navalny, said:
“Navalny’s arrest cannot be seen otherwise than as a new cynical attempt at silencing one of the most prominent critics of the Russian president Vladimir Putin. Unfortunately, he is not the first one. Nemtsov, Politkovskaya, Yushenkov.... the list of Russian regime opponents that have been silenced is long. We must not allow that Navalny joins this shameful list.
“After surviving two poisoning attempts, Navalny is again in detention, while those responsible for his poisoning remain at large. This is an affront to the European Union and to the entire international community.
“The European Union must demand from Russia Navalny’s immediate and unconditional release and a rigorous and effective investigation into his poisoning. In the absence of action by the Russian authorities, we must extend sanctions to everyone involved.”