Published: Wed, January 20, 2021

Kremlin Dismisses Calls To Free Alexie Navalny, Warns Against Protests

Kremlin Dismisses Calls To Free Alexie Navalny, Warns Against Protests

Addressing MEPs on Tuesday, the head of the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, David McAllister said the EU needs to "reassess" its "already strained" relations with Russian Federation, after the country's authorities arrested opposition leader Alexei Navalny upon his arrival in Moscow from Germany, where he has been convalescing after being poisoned with Novichok, a Soviet-era nerve agent.

The probe had been suspended while Navalny was hospitalised in Germany following a near fatal poisoning attack in August.

After tests in several laboratories, German officials said Navalny was poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok, which was also used according to the United Kingdom government in a 2018 attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the British town of Salisbury.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the palace allegations were old and untrue. "This is an absolutely domestic matter and we will not allow anyone to interfere in it", he added.

During a debate with European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, MEPs also called for Navalny's release highlighting that his arrest and the way it happened clearly contravened worldwide law and the Russian constitution.

Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, who was detained on his return to Russian Federation for violating a suspended sentence, is due in court Wednesday on separate charges of defaming a World War II veteran, his lawyer said.

Navalny was detained on his return to Russian Federation on Sunday for violating the terms of a 2014 suspended sentence by not checking in with Russia's prison service twice a month.

Mr Navalny has been placed in pre-trial detention for 30 days.

Peskov said the Kremlin was concerned by Navalny's calls for his supporters to stage mass protests.

Demonstrations in Moscow are now banned due to coronavirus restrictions.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, his wife Yulia and other demonstrators march in memory of murdered Kremlin critic Boris Nemtsov on February 29, 2020. But when asked if the Kremlin was anxious that such protests would materialize, Perskov said "absolutely not".

"We are not a body that can assess this, but undoubtedly this could be grounds for analyses on the issue of calls for illegal actions", Peskov said.

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