On the anniversary of his arrest, the EU demanded that Russia immediately release Alexei Navalny

Alexei Navalny arrives for an appointment with Justice (REUTERS / Tatyana Makeyeva) (TATYANA MAKEYEVA /)

The Union European asked on Monday Moscow to immediately release Alexei Navalny, the staunchest critic of the president Vladimir Putin and that he has been imprisoned for a year, in what the EU condemned as a politically motivated act.

“Today marks one year since the arrest and imprisonment of Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny upon his return to Russia from life-saving medical treatment in Berlin. after an assassination attempt on Russian territory”, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement.

We reiterate our call to the Russian authorities for his immediate and unconditional release without further delay.”.

Borrell also condemned what he described as a consistent campaign of disinformation against Navalny and his associates in the Russian state media, as well as the persecution of members of the opposition leader’s network.

In recent months, Russian authorities have persecuted groups affiliated with Navalny, 45, who is serving two and a half years in prison for parole violations related to a fraud case he says was politically motivated.

In June, a Russian court ruled that Navalny’s anti-corruption foundation was “extremist”.

Navalny was transferred to Germany for medical treatment in August 2020 after being poisoned in Siberia with what Western experts concluded was the military nerve agent Novichok.

The Russian government has denied being behind the poisoning and has rejected the conclusions of the experts -which provoked a new wave of sanctions against Russia- and has accused the West of a smear campaign against him.

Navalny “does not regret” anything

Navalny in his cell (Reuters)
Navalny in his cell (Reuters) (Tatyana Makeyeva /)

The opponent assured this Monday that “he does not regret a second” of having returned to Russia, where he was arrested a year ago, and urged his compatriots to “do not be afraid”.

“I’ve done it and I don’t regret it for a second.”, he writes on social networks, about his fight against the Kremlin and his return to the country, where he was at risk of being arrested, after months of convalescence in Germany.

Navalni, once omnipresent in demonstrations and on social media, is now only expressing himself through written messages posted online by his lawyers. “After a year in prison, I tell you (…) what I already said in court: do not be afraid”added the opponent. “It is our country, and we have no other.”

This Monday’s publication is accompanied by a photo of the opponent, dressed in a detainee’s uniform, in the company of his wife Yulia.

Again in court

Archive image of a graffiti of the Russian opponent Alexei Navalny in a street of Saint Petersburg (EFE)
Archive image of a graffiti by the Russian opponent Alexei Navalny on a street in Saint Petersburg (EFE) (ANATOLY MALTSEV/)

This Monday Navalni reappeared on video in a district court of Petushki, from the Vladimir region, where the opponent is imprisoned, according to images from the independent online chain dojd.

This time, He did so because of two lawsuits he filed against the prison administration.

Navalni participated in the hearing, through videoconference, locked in a cell and always dressed in a detainee uniform, according to images from this chain. One of his complaints was rejected and the other was postponed.

“Hell on Earth”

A year after his arrest, “Navalni and the political activists associated with him are experiencing hell on Earth”Amnesty International considered this Monday.

Since then, “the Russian authorities have launched an unprecedented campaign of repression and reprisals” against Alexei Navalny and his supporters, “destroying any vestige of freedom of expression and association”, added the NGO.

Navalni’s arrest sparked several days of demonstrations a year ago, but they were harshly put down. The crackdown on their movement was followed by mounting pressure against Kremlin-critical media outlets and NGOs, who were branded as “agents foreign”, a statute that makes their work difficult and confronts them with serious legal problems.

In December, the emblematic organization Memorial, a pillar of the defense of human rights in Russia, was banned. Last week, the two main collaborators of Alexei Navalni were added to the list of “terrorists and extremists” of the authorities.

As of now, Ivan Jdanov and Leonid Volkov, both exiled outside Russia, are considered “terrorists and extremists”, according to the list of the Russian financial intelligence service, rosfinmonitoring.

The two opponents, aged 33 and 41, were in charge of Navalni’s Anti-Corruption Fund (FBK) and the regional network of his organization, until these were prohibited by the Russian justice in June 2021.

This Monday, leonid Volkiv considered on social networks that on January 17 “It would go down in history as the beginning of the end of Putinism.”

(With information from Reuters and AFP)

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