Navalny and new EU and US sanctions for Russia
Navalny. How did it all begin
On August 20 last year, Navalny was hospitalized in Omsk after he fell ill on board a plane bound for Moscow from Tomsk. He was later taken to Berlin and admitted to the Charite clinic. On September 2, the German government issued a statement that Navalny had been exposed to a poisonous substance from the Novichok group. The official representative of the President of Russia Dmitry Peskov reported that before Navalny was taken to Berlin, no toxic substances were found in his body. He stressed that Russia is ready for all-round cooperation with Germany on this matter.
Navalny, twice conditionally convicted, was put on the wanted list for multiple violations of the terms of punishment in the Yves Rocher case. He was detained on January 17, 2021 at Sheremetyevo airport. The Khimki court left him in custody. On February 2, the court decided to replace his suspended sentence with a real one.
The EU imposed sanctions against the heads of the power departments of Russia
The European Union has expanded sanctions against Russia by including four Russian citizens on the blacklist – Prosecutor General Igor Krasnov, Head of the Investigative Committee Alexander Bastrykin, Head of the Federal Penitentiary Service Alexander Kalashnikov and Commander of the Russian Guard Viktor Zolotov. All of them, according to the community, are responsible for the conviction of Alexei Navalny.
All of them are prohibited from entering EU countries, as well as keeping funds in banks in EU countries.
Restrictive measures were introduced for the first time under the mechanism of sanctions for violations of human rights. This is stated in the “Official Journal of the European Union”, where on Tuesday the corresponding decrees were published.
“On February 22, 2021, the Foreign Affairs Council agreed to continue work on future restrictive measures in response to serious human rights violations. In this context, as well as taking into account the duration and seriousness of human rights violations in Russia, four people should be included in the list of individuals or legal entities, organizations or bodies to which restrictive measures are applied, ”the message says.
The political decision to impose new sanctions against the Russian Federation was made at a meeting of the foreign ministers of the 27 EU countries on February 22. As the head of EU diplomacy Josep Borrell said at the time, the ministers intended to impose sanctions on those who, in the opinion of the community, were responsible for Navalny’s verdict. At the same time, he said that sanctions would be introduced for the first time as part of the sanctions mechanism for human rights violations.
New EU mechanism
The European Union created a global sanctions regime for human rights violations last December. The EU Council resolution then noted that the new regime blacklist will include individuals and organizations that the community considers guilty of the following crimes and violations around the world: “genocide, crimes against humanity, serious violations or abuses in the field of human rights, including torture, slavery, extrajudicial or arbitrary executions and killings, enforced disappearances of persons, arbitrary arrest or detention ”.
Structurally, this mechanism doesn’t differ from the existing restrictive community measures envisaged for the “violation of human rights” in relation to individual states, for example, Belarus, Myanmar, Iran. The only difference of the new regime is that, with its help, restrictions can be imposed on a citizen of any state if Brussels suspects him of violating human rights in his home country, regardless of whether there is an EU sanctions regime against this country.
The United States is imposing sanctions on seven high-ranking Russian officials in connection with the situation around Alexei Navalny.
An administration official recalled that inclusion in the sanctions list means a freeze of assets in the United States and a ban for American citizens or companies from doing business with its persons involved. In addition, the representative of the executive branch of government continued, restrictions may also be imposed against foreign citizens who “participate in significant transactions” with these officials.
She compared the poisoning of the blogger attributed to the Russian authorities to the situation around former intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in March 2018.
“Today, the administration is announcing key findings from the intelligence community’s assessment of the situation with the poisoning of Alexei Navalny, as well as measures to hold Russia accountable for it,” said another US official at the briefing.
The official again voiced the version of the poisoning of Alexei Navalny by Russian structures with a nerve agent known as “Novichok“, which was repeatedly broadcast by Western politicians. “The use of any kind of chemical weapons directly violates the country’s legal obligations, as well as the norms of civilized behavior,” added a spokesman for the Washington administration.
“Many of the actions we are taking today reflect the steps taken by the EU in October and are combined with additional measures taken by the EU today,” he added, urging “the Russian government to immediately and unconditionally release Navalny.”
Export restrictions for Russia
The United States is tightening restrictions on exports to Russia, blacklisting 14 organizations.
“Today in the federal register we will publish a list of 14 organizations that will be subject to the greatest export restrictions. Nine of them are Russian, three from Germany, one from Switzerland, one is a state research institute, he said. “They are all engaged in activities that are contrary to American national security and foreign policy interests.”
The official did not mention to which specific organizations the restrictions are being introduced.
According to an administration official, those on the list are allegedly involved in the production of “biological agents.” Restrictions will concern export, re-export and technology transfer issues.
Russia’s response to EU and US sanctions
“We consider any such restrictions absolutely unacceptable,” the Kremlin spokesman said. “Because they are seriously damaging the already deplorable relationship.” He explained that in this case we are talking about the relations of the Russian Federation with the United States and the European Union. “They (the sanctions) are nothing more than interference in the internal affairs of Russia,” emphasized Peskov.
In response to a question whether the Kremlin can explain the strategy chosen by the US and the EU of targeted and essentially duplicating Russian restriction laws, the spokesman for the Russian leader said: “It is not our concern to explain any motivation.” He added that such decisions are considered by the Kremlin “absurd, without any justification.”
“And most importantly, they have no effect or meaning,” Peskov pointed out. “And in this regard, we can only regret and express bewilderment.”
“If we talk about specific people against whom the so-called sanctions have been imposed, the restrictions are more likely to be a duplication of those restrictions that are imposed on these people by Russian laws,” the Kremlin spokesman said.
Communication of Russian law enforcement agencies with the EU and the USA
Russia is not going to cut off contacts with the EU and the United States through law enforcement agencies amid new sanctions. So Peskov answered the question of whether the new sanctions, which affected, among other things, the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation Igor Krasnov, would threaten the Russians and, in general, international cooperation in this area.
“Here we need to give a legal assessment. Of course we are not going to interrupt any contacts in this case. I have no doubt that our colleagues during the dialogue will find out what they mean, ”said Peskov. He added that “in any case, everything will be done so that the interests of the Russians are not affected in any way.”
Peskov noted that the relevant departments will present to the leadership of the Russian Federation a draft of retaliatory sanctions for new restrictions on Moscow from the EU and the United States.
We will agree on sanctions, the relevant departments will submit proposals to the leadership, they will be approved, and then they will be announced and brought to the attention of our opponents in this story.Dmitry Peskov
press secretary of the president of Russia
He added that a response to these restrictions would suit Russian interests in the best way.
The Kremlin spokesman noted that the principle of reciprocity will be respected. “The principle of reciprocity cannot be abandoned in interstate relations,” he said.