PARIS / PRAGUE, 23 Feb – RIA Novosti. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian at the Council of Foreign Ministers of the European Union in Brussels called on the EU to adopt a “firm and unified response” to the situation with Alexei Navalny, while emphasizing the need to preserve channels of dialogue with Russia, a representative of the French department said.
Earlier, the EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy Josep Borrell confirmed that the EU foreign ministers at a meeting on Monday agreed to expand personal sanctions against Russia due to the situation around Navalny. The Russian Foreign Ministry, commenting on the threat of new EU sanctions, said that, contrary to logic, Brussels first makes a political decision, and then arbitrarily selects candidates for it. Moscow noted that the ingraining of illegitimate instruments in the EU's foreign policy arsenal – ultimatums, pressure and sanctions – is only regrettable. “The minister called on the European Union to adopt a firm and unified response, also taking into account both the support of civil society and the need to maintain channels of dialogue with Russia “, – said in the communique of the representative of the French Foreign Ministry.
In turn, the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Slovakia Ivan Korchok said that “a deep discussion of the EU's relations with Russia was held in Brussels.”
“We do not want to endlessly talk with Russia only in the language of sanctions, but we cannot replace the cause with the consequences. We want a constructive relationship, but we cannot ignore when differences arise regarding values that are important to us,” said Korchok, whose speech was broadcast on network TV channels.
The meeting of the EU Foreign Ministers is taking place just over two weeks after Borrell's sensational visit to Moscow. As a result, Borrell announced possible sanctions against the Russian Federation. Later, the representative of the head of EU diplomacy, Peter Stano, told RIA Novosti that the process of preparing new sanctions, which could be imposed against Russia due to the situation around Navalny, is underway, it is confidential.
A high-ranking European representative on the eve of the meeting explained that a number of countries have already made their proposals on the sanctions lists, but there is still no final decision and consensus on personalities. According to the European representative, the next restrictions against Russia will most likely be adopted within the framework of the new framework regime for human rights violations.
At the same time, according to a European source, these sanctions will not affect representatives of large Russian business, as demanded by some MEPs. We will only talk about the persons who, according to the EU, are directly involved in the arrest of Navalny. At the same time, the approval of the new list is expected by the EU summit on March 25-26, at which European leaders intend to discuss the further strategy of relations with Moscow.
On February 2, the Simonovsky Court of Moscow ruled to cancel Navalny's suspended sentence in the Yves Rocher case and replace him with 3.5 years in a general regime colony due to numerous violations of the conditions of the probationary period. On Saturday, the Moscow City Court upheld the decision to replace Navalny's suspended sentence with a real one. He will have to spend about 2.5 years in a colony.
Allegations that Navalny is being persecuted solely for his political activities have been refuted by the European Court of Human Rights: Strasbourg did not recognize the political motives in the Yves Rocher case, although it awarded compensation for house arrest, which were paid in full by the Russian authorities.
The Russian Foreign Ministry previously advised foreign politicians commenting on the situation with Navalny to respect international law and deal with the problems of their countries, while the Russian President's press secretary Dmitry Peskov said that the Kremlin did not intend to listen to statements from abroad about Navalny. Navalny himself and a number of Western countries claim that he was poisoned with military substance by officers of the special services of the Russian Federation, the Russian prosecutor's office and the police began to conduct checks on the day of Navalny's hospitalization, but Russia is still waiting for a response from Germany, where Navalny received treatment, to an official request on this situation …