In Russia, the support of European countries in the case of the arrest of President Vladimir Putin’s anti-leader Alexey Navalny has become a mere verbatim. On Monday, no action was taken against Russia in the European Union (EU) Foreign Ministers’ meeting to discuss the issue.
Earlier many member countries of the EU demanded that new sanctions should be imposed on Russia. But after the meeting of EU foreign ministers, EU foreign policy chief Joseph Burrell said – there was no concrete proposal in the agenda. Burrell must say that the EU is ready to respond and take appropriate steps according to the circumstances.
Navalny was arrested in Moscow as soon as he returned from Germany after undergoing treatment last week. He was arrested on charges of violating the conditions of permission granted to go abroad by postponing the conviction in a 2014 case. Navalani was sentenced in a fraud case. But the decision was criticized by the European Court of Human Rights. Thousands of people took to the streets in different cities of Russia last Saturday to protest against the recent arrest of Navalni. About three thousand people were detained that day.
After a meeting of EU foreign ministers on Monday, Burrell said the arrest of the protesters was as regrettable as the arrest of Navalni. He said- the EU considered it completely unacceptable and condemned the mass detention and police brutality of the people. The EU has asked Russia to immediately release Navalny and his supporters.
But Burrell made it clear that according to his earlier schedule he would travel to Russia in early February. He will undertake the visit at the invitation of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Burrell said- I have informed the EU of my intention to go to Russia. This would be a good opportunity to interact with Russian leaders on every issue. This also includes giving them a clear message on the current situation. Burrell said his visit to Moscow would go a long way in preparing for a meeting of EU heads of government to consider relations with Russia in March.
After this meeting many EU diplomats said that if Navalny is not released by 15 February, Russia should impose sanctions. But some other diplomats are of the opinion that the EU heads of state should wait until a meeting in March before the ban can be taken. In Monday’s meeting, Poland and Lithuania demanded strong action against Russia. But overall the message has been that currently EU support for Navalni will remain intact.