European authorities call for “immediate” release of Alexei Navalny

The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and Josep Borrell Fontelles, high representative and vice president of the European Commission, call on the Russian authorities to “immediately” release the Russian opponent, detained this Sunday in Moscow.

European authorities consider the arrest of Russian opponent Alexei Navalny, detained this Sunday on arrival in Moscow, unacceptable, demanding his “immediate” release.

European Council President Charles Michel says that the arrest of Alexei Navalny on arrival in Moscow is unacceptable "and asks" the Russian authorities to release him immediately ".

Josep Borrell Fontelles, high representative and vice president of the European Commission, also wrote in a Twitter post that "the Russian authorities must respect the rights of Alexei Navalny and release him immediately".

"The politicization of the judiciary is unacceptable," he added.

Russian prison services (FSIN) today arrested Russian opponent Alexei Navalny on arrival in Moscow, accusing him of violating the terms of a suspended prison sentence he was sentenced to in 2014.

In a statement, the FSIN reported that Alexei Navalny, who returned today to Russia after several months of convalescence in Germany after an alleged poisoning with a neurotoxic agent, "will remain in detention until the court's decision" on his case, without specifying a date.

Leading opposition figure to the Kremlin (Russian Presidency), Navalny was questioned by the police on arrival at Moscow's Cheremetievo airport, when he was going through passport control, according to witnesses from the France-Presse (AFP) agency at the scene.

Russian prison services said Navalny, 44, "is on a list of people wanted since December 29, 2020 for multiple violations of his probationary period."

“Alexei was arrested without explaining the reason (…). They did not let me return to him ”after passing through the border services, said in a statement to AFP, the opponent's lawyer, Olga Mikhailova.

Several Navalny allies and supporters, including the opponent's brother, Oleg, were also arrested today in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

On leaving Berlin this afternoon, the Russian opponent reaffirmed his innocence.

“Am I going to be arrested? It is impossible, I am innocent, ”Alexei Navalny told reporters on board the plane bound for the Russian capital.

When boarding the plane, the opponent thanked Germany again for organizing its hospital treatment and the period of convalescence.

"I want to express a big thank you, thank you all, I hope everything goes well, today I am very happy," said Navalny, quoted by AFP, after being escorted to the plane, in the company of his wife, Ioulia, by the German police, for security reasons.

Initially, the plane carrying Navalny was to land at Moscow's Vnoukovo airport, where dozens of supporters were awaiting it, who were being watched by riot police units.

But the plans were changed and the device landed at Cheremetievo airport, also in the Russian capital.

The opposition leader returns to Russia after almost five months of medical treatment in Germany, after being poisoned with a toxic substance for military use, an act that, according to the activist, was ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The detention order carried out today was put forward by the Russian Federal Prison Service, which asked the Russian justice to send Alexei Navalny to prison to serve a suspended sentence of 3,5 years to which he was sentenced in 2014, a judgment considered arbitrary ”in 2017 by the European Court of Human Rights.

On August 20, 2020, Navalny felt ill and passed out during a domestic flight in Russia, and was transported two days later in a coma to Germany for treatment.

Laboratories in Germany, France and Sweden, as well as the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, demonstrated that he was exposed to a neurotoxic agent, like Novichok, from the Soviet era.

Russian authorities have rejected all charges of involvement in the poisoning.

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