Kremlin dismisses calls for sanctions over Navalny detention

Nellie Chapman
January 20, 2021

The Kremlin on Tuesday dismissed Western demands to release Russia's most prominent opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, saying calls for mass protests over his arrest were "troubling".

Navalny was detained on Sunday after flying back to Russia for the first time since he was attacked with a military-grade nerve agent last summer while traveling in Russia's east, and has urged Russians to take to the streets in protest.

After tests in several laboratories, German officials said Navalny was poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok, which was also used according to the United Kingdom government in a 2018 attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the British town of Salisbury.

On Tuesday, MEPs strongly condemned Navalny's arrest and called on the European Union to extend sanctions against Russian officials to cover those involved in his jailing.

On Monday, Navalny was jailed for 30 days pending further court hearings in a case relating to his suspended sentence handed down in 2014, over embezzlement charges.

"We hear these statements. This is an absolutely domestic matter, and we will not allow anyone to interfere in it", he went on.

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The member of the European People's Party (EPP) also said during the parliament's plenary session that further EU sanctions on Russian Federation should be imposed, that will target individuals involved in Navalny's detention.

Mr Peskov said Mr Navalny had genuine questions to answer about violating his parole conditions for a suspended prison sentence.

Peskov said those calls were alarming but added the Kremlin did not fear mass protests.

Demonstrations in Moscow are now banned due to coronavirus restrictions.

Leaders in several Western countries, many of whom have demanded answers from Russian Federation over the alleged poisoning attack against Navalny in August, have called for the Kremlin critic's immediate release. "These calls are troubling", he said.

"We are not a body that can assess this, but undoubtedly this could be grounds for analyses on the issue of calls for illegal actions", Peskov said. But when asked if the Kremlin was anxious that such protests would materialize, Perskov said "absolutely not".

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