(Moscow) On Monday, a Russian court ordered the detention of opponent Alexei Navalny until February 15, who called in return for the Russians to “take to the streets” against power.
“Alexei Navalny is in detention for 30 days, until February 15,” his lawyer, Vadim Kupzev, said on Twitter.
Immediately after the issuance of this decision, a video clip of the opponent was posted on social media, which was filmed in the courtroom, in which he called on the Russians to take the opposition’s battles to the streets.
“What these thieves fear (in power) the most, you know, is people taking to the streets […] So don’t be afraid, take to the streets, not for me, but for you, for your future, ”he said in a video clip filmed in the courtroom and posted on social media.
Leonid Volkov, the opponent’s right-hand man, immediately announced on Twitter that Navalny’s teams “began preparing for large protests across the country on January 23”.
Charismatic anti-corruption activist and archenemy of the Kremlin, Mr. Navalny, 44, accuses President Vladimir Putin of ordering the poisoning of Novichuk in August, which Russia denies.
After surviving this suspected poisoning, he was treated for five months in Germany.
On Sunday, the opponent returned to Moscow, and upon his arrival, FSIN, the Russian Prisons Service, was arrested, accusing him of violating judicial control procedures by going for treatment abroad.
Mr. Navalny joked about his arrest, summarizing his situation as follows: “We tried to kill you, you are not dead, you are bothering us, we are holding you”.
The arrest of the opponent will be decided at the end of an open hearing on Monday afternoon, which will be quickly organized in the same headquarters of the police station where he was arrested.
His lawyer was not allowed to speak with their client and review the case until after the hearing had begun.
Alexei Navalny has been widely ignored by Russian national media, and he remains the main voice of the opposition thanks to a very large audience on social networks and his investigations into elite corruption.
However, its notoriety is still limited outside of large gatherings.
Mr Navalny was preparing to campaign actively for the Russian legislative elections scheduled for September, against a backdrop of the growing erosion of the Kremlin, the United Russia party.
Europe demands the immediate release of Navalny
In Brussels, European Union member states on Monday denounced the arrest of Russian opponent Alexei Navalny and called for his “immediate” release in a statement issued on behalf of the Group of Twenty-seven President of Diplomacy Josep Borrell.
Many of them also called for new sanctions against Russia if calls for his release went unheeded.
“If Navalny is not released, we must consider imposing restrictive measures in response to this act,” said Latvian chief diplomat Edgars Rinkoves. Her application is supported by Estonia and Lithuania.
A spokesman for Josep Borrell confirmed that “discussions are going well between member states.” He pointed out that the adoption of new sanctions requires the consensus of member states of the European Union.
The topic is expected to be on the agenda of the European Union foreign ministers’ meeting scheduled for January 25th.
The politicization of the justice system
“The politicization of the judicial system is unacceptable and the rights of Mr. Navalny must be respected,” 27 denounced in their joint statement.
They added, “We also call on the Russian authorities to immediately release all journalists and citizens who were arrested due to their coverage and support for Mr. Navalny upon his return.”
This arrest confirms a persistent negative trend of shrinking the space for opposition, civil society and independent voices in the Russian Federation. They warned that the European Union will closely monitor developments in this area and will continue to take them into account when formulating its policy towards Russia.
European leaders imposed sanctions on a number of senior Russian officials in October for poisoning the opponent in order to clearly demonstrate their desire to uphold international law.
European Council President Charles Michel condemned the arrest of Alexei Navalny, 44, on Sunday, and the president of the European Parliament, David Sassoli and Josep Borrell.
Mr. Sassoli condemned in particular “the arrest of Alexei Navalny in Moscow an insult to the international community, against Europe, which helped save his life”.
On Monday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg joined international calls for the immediate release of the opponent.
Navalny accuses President Vladimir Putin of ordering to assassinate him in August with Novichok-type military nerve gas, which Moscow denies.
Navalny, who was treated in Germany, returned to Moscow on Sunday after five months in convalescence and was arrested upon arrival.
He was wanted since the end of December by the FSIN, the Russian Prison Service, which accuses him of violating his presence in Germany of the terms of a suspended sentence issued in 2014.
Alexei Navalny, who received an invitation to speak by video link in front of the European Parliament in November, called on Europeans to strike at the oligarchy close to President Vladimir Putin in order to be reliable in their sanctions.