Staff members of the imprisoned Kremlin critic Navalny have made proposals to the EU for new sanctions against Russia. They want to punish well-known oligarchs like Roman Abramovich and Alisher Usmanov.
Allies of the imprisoned Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny spoke with representatives of EU states about possible sanctions against high-ranking Russian officials and confidants of President Vladimir Putin. Navalny’s employees Leonid Volkov and Vladimir Ashurkov reportedly advertised on Monday in a video link with EU representatives for a “package of personal sanctions” against the closest circle of Putin supporters. Russia’s Foreign Ministry spoke of treason.
Volkov wrote on the Telegram messenger service late Monday evening that he and Ashurkov had named the oligarchs Roman Abramovich and Alisher Usmanov as possible targets for punitive measures. The names of the TV station boss Konstantin Ernst, the presenter Vladimir Solovyov, the banker Andrei Kostin and the former high government official Igor Shuvalov had also been mentioned.
Russia condemns conversation
The Polish delegation to the EU confirmed a video conference call with Volkov and Ashurkov. “The permanent representatives of the 27 and the ambassadors of the USA, Great Britain, Canada and Ukraine are now discussing the next steps,” the delegation announced on Twitter.
The spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Sakharova, condemned the talks between Navalny employees and EU representatives. “From a moral and ethical point of view,” Volkov and Ashurkov had committed “treason,” she said on Vesti FM on Tuesday. The opposition had spoken to representatives of states that see Russia “either as an opponent or enemy or as an aggressor”.
Calling for sanctions should be made a criminal offense
Lower House Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said Parliament was considering a new law to allow prosecution of people who call for new sanctions against Russia. “Such an initiative would of course enjoy massive support,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.
Volkov justified the demand for new sanctions against representatives of his country. These are also in the interests of Russian civil society. “It is difficult to come up with something more patriotic, something that would be even more in Russia’s interest,” he said.
EU wants to impose further sanctions
Since Nawalny was arrested on January 17, the EU had requested his release several times. She accuses Moscow of failing to investigate the poisoning of the Kremlin critic last August and imposed sanctions on several Russian officials because of the attack. After his unsuccessful visit to Moscow, EU foreign affairs representative Josep Borrell wants to propose further sanctions against Russia to the member states. He will submit “concrete” plans for this, said Borrell on Tuesday in the European Parliament. There he was faced with calls for resignation because of his visit to Moscow.
Appeal to show solidarity with Navalny
Navalny was treated in Germany after the poison attack, for which he blames the Russian government. Last Tuesday, a Moscow court sentenced him to almost three years in a penal colony for alleged 2014 probation violations. Tens of thousands of people recently took to the streets in Russia for Navalny’s release and against Putin.
On Tuesday, Volkov called for renewed expressions of solidarity for Navalny. On Sunday, people in Russia were supposed to light up their cell phone flashlights for Navalny 15 minutes in front of their homes. “Love is stronger than fear,” he wrote about the appeal on Facebook. Meanwhile, Peskow warned against participating in unauthorized rallies. “We’re not going to play cat and mouse with anyone,” he said.