Michel also called for a thorough investigation into the poisoning of the opposition activist
In a telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President of the European Council Charles Michel called on him to facilitate the release of opposition activist Alexei Navalny.
Michel wrote this on Twitter. “During my phone call to President Putin, I stressed that the European Union unanimously condemns the detention of Alexei Navalny,” the senior European official wrote. He also said that Russia should urgently conduct a full and transparent investigation into the attempted poisoning of the opposition politician in August.
The Kremlin statement about the conversation between the head of the European Council and Vladimir Putin noted, literally in one line, that “at Charles Michel’s request, the situation around Navalny was also touched upon. Before that, the text on the website of the Russian president said that the two sides “discussed at length the state of affairs in relations between Russia and the European Union, with an emphasis on the need to build pragmatic cooperation.
On January 17, Alexei Navalny was detained on his arrival in Moscow from Berlin, where he was undergoing treatment and rehabilitation. Later, he was detained for 30 days at the request of the Federal Penitentiary Service. The opposition activist is accused of violating his probation in the so-called “Yves Rocher case,” which Navalny himself calls politically motivated. On February 2 Navalny may have his three and a half year suspended sentence changed to a real one.
On January 21, the European Parliament passed a resolution in connection with Navalny’s prosecution. The deputies demanded that the EU leadership stop the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline and impose sanctions on individuals and legal entities involved in the decision to detain and arrest Alexei Navalny, including people from Putin’s inner circle.
Last August 20, the Russian opposition politician was urgently hospitalized in Omsk in an unconscious state. Two days later, Navalny was taken to the Charite hospital in Berlin, where experts found traces of the Novichok toxin in his system. Russian authorities denied that Navalny had been poisoned, and no criminal charges were filed.
According to Alexei Navalny, he knew that he could be detained upon his arrival in Russia, but he has not abandoned his plans to return.
Already after his arrest in Moscow, Alexei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation published a high-profile investigation into Putin’s so-called “palace,” a complex near Gelendzhik worth billions of rubles. Navalny’s investigation claims that the complex was built with money from state corporations and businessmen from the entourage of the Russian president.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, responding to reporters’ questions Friday about the film, which has received a record number of views on Youtube, called the investigation a lie and a “quality cranberry.” Peskov claims that Vladimir Putin has nothing to do with any facilities in Gelendzhik and has never been there.
On January 23, Alexei Navalny’s supporters are preparing for rallies in support of him all over Russia. Reports are coming in from many regions about the detentions of activists. Authorities have warned of the illegality of the planned rallies.