Imprisonment of Kremlin critic is an affront to the Rule of Law, he must be freed

19/01/2021 - The PES supports EU declaration calling for the release of Alexei Navalny

Alexei Navalny at a Moscow airport

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is seen at the passport control point at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport on 17 January 2021. He was detained by Russian police shortly after he landed on a flight from Berlin. Photo: Belga / AFP

The Party of European Socialists condemns the detention of the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and welcomes the declaration released on behalf of the EU by High Representative Josep Borrell.

The 30-day detention of the Kremlin’s critic in Moscow, pending further charges, is an unacceptable violation of his human and democratic rights. Alexei Navalny must be released at once.

The show of support Navalny has received from the EU with the declaration is needed and timely, the PES said today as it condemned the latest attempt by Russian authorities to silence the opposition.

PES President Sergei Stanishev said:

“Alexei Navalny has demonstrated extreme bravery to go back to his homeland and face the Russian authorities, knowing that his freedom and even his life are at risk. His arrest is violation of his rights. Navalny is the democratic leader of the legal opposition. That must be respected and he should be released immediately.

“We fully support the declaration of EU High Representative Josep Borrell. The international community is watching very closely. Politicisation of the judiciary is unacceptable. The suppression of opposition voices in Russia must stop.”

Yesterday a Moscow judge ordered that Alexei Navalny be held in custody for 30 days until a parole review could be held. The review could see the opposition figure imprisoned for years.

The PES joins other socialists as the international outcry at the detention increases. European Parliament President David Sassoli, the S&D Group and others have called for Navalny’s release.

Navalny was arrested on Sunday evening. He was returning to Russia for the first time since a suspected poisoning by the Russian security service last year.