Crime & Justice

Kremlin opens up new front with West after Navalny arrest

Bernardo Suárez Indart

Moscow, Jan 18 (EFE).- With the detention and imprisonment of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was arrested the moment he had landed in Moscow after having survived being poisoned in an assassination attempt allegedly by the Russian state, the Kremlin has opened up a new front where simmering tensions with the West can play out.

The move to detain Navalny, who returned to Russia after recovering for almost five months in Germany from the Novichok poisoning, has unleashed a wave of condemnation from the international community, and could lead to more sanctions being imposed against Moscow.

Navalny has accused the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, of being behind the alleged attack and has previously accused him of fabricating criminal investigations to restrict his political activity.

The United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom and human rights organizations have all expressed their condemnation of Navalny’s detention.

“Mr. Navalny should be immediately released, and the perpetrators of the outrageous attack on his life must be held accountable,” wrote Jake Sullivan, national security advisor to US President-elect Joe Biden, in a tweet.

The outgoing US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he was “deeply troubled” by the arrest.  “Confident political leaders do not fear competing voices, nor see the need to commit violence against or wrongfully detain, political opponents,” he said.

The Russian Federal Prison Service ordered Navalny’s arrest for breaching the conditions of a suspended sentence he received in 2014 for three and a half years in prison, in a trial described as “arbitrary” by the European Court of Human Rights.

The three Baltic countries, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, as well as Poland and Ukraine, condemned the arrest and demanded new sanctions against the Kremlin.

In October, the EU and the United Kingdom approved sanctions against six prominent members of the Russian administration, who are considered responsible for Navalny’s “assassination attempt” using Novichok, a toxic nerve agent. Among them the head of the Federal Security Service (FSB).

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