Putin calls protests demanding Navalny’s release dangerous as Moscow residents condemn arrests
Faction leader &# 171; European People’s Party&# 187; Manfred Weber believes that the EU should stop financial transactions with Putin’s inner circle
The EU should punish Russian President Vladimir Putin for arresting Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny and thousands of his supporters with targeted financial sanctions, the leader of the bloc’s largest political alliance said on Sunday.
During Saturday’s protests in Russia, police detained more than 3,000 people supporting Navalny, who was arrested earlier this month after returning to Russia from Germany..
“It is unacceptable that the Russian leadership is trying to crack down on the growing protests by arresting thousands of demonstrators,” the influential German conservative Manfred Weber, who heads the center-right European People’s Party faction in the European Parliament, told the news service of the German publishing group RND..
“EU foreign ministers must not be allowed to back down from this again, limiting themselves to general calls,” Weber said.. “The EU must strike a really painful spot in Putin’s system – and that is money.”.
Therefore, the EU must stop financial transactions with Putin’s inner circle, he added..
In addition, the threat of a shutdown of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline should remain a subject of negotiations, Weber said..
A spokesman for the German government declined to comment when asked if Berlin is ready to support new sanctions against Russia after Navalny’s arrest.
On Thursday, EU lawmakers passed a resolution calling on the bloc to halt the completion of Nord Stream 2 in response to Navalny’s arrest.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who continues to support the project despite criticism in other EU countries, said on Thursday that her opinion on the project has not changed, despite the Navalny case..
The US, EU and UK condemned the actions of Russian security officials during Saturday’s protests. French and Italian foreign ministers on Sunday expressed support for sanctions.
Meanwhile, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the arrests of thousands of people at rallies in support of Navalny jeopardize the rule of law..
“The success of the demonstrations across Russia is impressive,” Le Drian said in an interview with France Inter radio, noting that he was worried about Russia’s slide towards authoritarianism..
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