Navalny aides press EU leaders to increase Russian sanctions – POLITICO

High aides to Alexei Navalny accused Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday of jailing their boss and different opposition figures to eradicate competitors in upcoming nationwide elections, they usually urged EU leaders to make use of European Courtroom of Human Rights case information to determine investigators, judges and prosecutors who ought to be sanctioned for his or her function in political abuses. 

Navalny and his associates have known as loudly and publicly for the EU to sanction oligarchs near Putin, particularly those that preserve a big portion of their wealth in Europe — a requirement that poses a thicket of authorized obstacles. However throughout a cease in Brussels on Monday, two of Navalny’s high lieutenants, Leonid Volkov and Ivan Zhdanov, advised reporters that they had additionally pressed the EU to punish the Russian officers who help in illicit prosecutions. They usually pointed to the European Courtroom of Human Rights as a repository of proof.

In that sense, Volkov and Zhdanov supplied a possible new roadmap for EU overseas ministers, who on Monday agreed to impose new sanctions over Navalny’s imprisonment, however will solely now begin understanding all the particulars.

“Putin goes full steam into his electoral marketing campaign now, like clearing the political subject, evaporating all potential opposition candidates,” Volkov, who’s Navalny’s chief of workers, advised reporters at a briefing Monday. “Our message was that Europe ought to consider the upcoming election on this context — not solely how the votes might be counted.”

Volkov and Zhdanov, the top of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Basis, additionally had pointed phrases for EU leaders, saying it’s naive to assume Putin will cooperate with them, even on a restricted foundation.

“We simply must be logical,” Volkov mentioned. “When Putin simply laughs in Europe’s face on human rights — on his obligations towards the European Courtroom of Human Rights, on his obligations in direction of just like the Chemical Weapons Conference — how may we logically assume that it could make any sense to barter with him on local weather change, or anti-money laundering or no matter?”

That message was clearly supposed partly for leaders like French President Emmanuel Macron, who has repeatedly mentioned he’s looking for a rapprochement with Putin, and EU overseas coverage chief Josep Borrell, who just lately traveled to Moscow looking for to reopen dialogue solely to finish up embarrassed as Russia expelled three European diplomats throughout his go to.

However Monday’s recommendation on punishing human rights violators was most pertinent, on condition that it got here the identical day EU overseas ministers gave the inexperienced gentle to impose new sanctions.

In response to a query, Volkov mentioned that Navalny’s allies would assist sanctions in opposition to officers from Putin’s political get together, United Russia, in addition to members of Russia’s Central Election Fee. However he conceded these measures have been unlikely and mentioned specializing in officers named in European Courtroom of Human Rights choices may make extra sense.

“Europe has truly constructed an enormous database of human rights violators that simply must be utilized, and that is the database of the prevailing verdicts of the European Courtroom of Human Rights,” Volkov mentioned. “There are literally thousands of violations and they’re all documented. So each time we get arrested for participation in a rally, we attraction to the European Courtroom of Human Rights.”

He added: “This may assist Russian civil society very a lot, truly, when the subsequent time the decide would take into consideration arresting a few of our colleagues for an additional 15 days for taking part in a rally — that this might shut him and her technique to their trip in France or in Italy.”

The 2 opposition figures mentioned Borrell’s recent trip to Moscow confirmed that it was foolish for the EU to attempt to develop a dialogue with Putin or Russian International Minister Sergey Lavrov.

“Lavrov, Putin have thought of Borrell’s go to as an indication of weak spot,” Volkov mentioned, “and acted upon it.”

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