Kremlin critic returns to court docket having been jailed earlier this week, as a high EU official meets the Russian FM.
Jailed Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny returned to court docket on Friday to face trial over a slander cost, amid a refrain of calls from Western capitals for his launch and talks between the European Union’s high diplomat and Russia’s international minister.
Navalny, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s most distinguished opponent, was jailed on Tuesday for nearly three years over alleged parole violations of a suspended sentence linked to a 2014 embezzlement case, which he has mentioned was politically motivated.
He appeared in court docket once more on Friday morning to face expenses he slandered a World Struggle II veteran who took half in a promotional video backing final 12 months’s reforms that permit Putin run for 2 extra phrases within the Kremlin after 2024 if he desires.
Navalny described the individuals within the video as traitors with no conscience and as corrupt lackeys.
Although the cost is at the moment punishable by as much as two years in jail, he can’t face a custodial sentence as a result of the alleged crime was dedicated earlier than the regulation was modified to make it a jailable offence, based on the 44-year-old’s lawyer.
Navalny mentioned final 12 months the case was a part of an unrelenting marketing campaign to stifle his political marketing campaign towards the Kremlin.
Navalny’s listening to got here as Josep Borrell, the EU’s excessive consultant for international affairs and safety coverage, met Russian international minister Sergey Lavrov within the capital, Moscow.
Regardless of shut commerce ties and vitality interdependence, Russia’s political relations with the EU have plunged to post-Chilly Struggle lows since Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
In the course of the talks, Borrell mentioned: “Our relationship is certainly in a tough second”, describing ties between the 2 events as being “beneath extreme pressure and the Navalny case is a low level”.
“There are points by which we will and should work collectively,” Borrell advised reporters at a press convention with Lavrov, who mentioned that, “each side have confirmed their curiosity in sustaining and increasing channels of dialogue, together with on points on which our positions differ.”
Lavrov in the meantime mentioned Russia considers the European Union to be an unreliable associate.
Lavrov was commenting on the potential for EU sanctions towards Moscow over its remedy of Navalny.
Lavrov mentioned the query of attainable sanctions was an inner matter for the EU, however mentioned Russia had seen how Brussels was more and more behaving like the US and imposing unilateral restrictions on nations.
“For Russia, the EU is an unreliable associate,” Lavrov mentioned.
Al Jazeera’s Aleksandra Gofroid, reporting from Moscow, mentioned the assembly was an try to search out new channels of communication.
“Each Borrell and Lavrov agreed that the relations are very dangerous at this level,” she mentioned.
“Nonetheless, each ministers mentioned there are alternatives for cooperation, and as Borrell put it, ‘a wall of silence shouldn’t be one in all them.’”
1000’s arrested over protests
Navalny’s jailing has prompted condemnation from the EU and several other Western nations, with requires sanctions on Russia rising in Europe.
Moscow has up to now disregarded the international criticism of its dealing with of Navalny’s case as exterior interference, accusing the West of hysteria and double requirements.
The Kremlin has additionally mentioned current protests over Navalny’s arrest which noticed tens of hundreds take to the streets in cities and cities throughout Russia had been damaged up by police as a result of they had been unlawful.
Greater than 10,000 individuals have been arrested for collaborating within the demonstrations, based on protest-monitoring group OVD-Data.
Navalny was initially arrested on January 17 upon returning to Russia from the German capital, Berlin, the place he spent 5 months recovering from an alleged nerve-agent poisoning he blames on the Kremlin.
The Kremlin denies involvement within the August 2020 incident and says it has seen no proof Navalny was poisoned.