According to the speaker of the Russian parliament, a draft law on punishing people close to Aleksey Navalny is now being prepared. The Kremlin has called associates and relatives of jailed Alexei Navalny, Russia's main opponent of the criminal regime, "traitors" for discussing sanctions against top Russian officials with the EU.
The people against whom Navalny's associates are proposing sanctions and who are likely to be the targets of these new sanctions are, among others, oligarchs Roman Abramovich and Alisher Usmanov, pro-Kremlin TV propagandist Vladimir Solovyov, Channel One head Konstantin Ernst, banker Andrey Kostin and former senior official Igor Shuvalov, now head of the Russian VEB. The sanctions will also affect the children of Russian Security Council Secretary General Nikolai Patrushev, whose son is the Minister of Agriculture, and Security Service (FSB) director Alexander Bortnikov, who are already under sanctions themselves.
The Polish delegation to the EU confirmed on Twitter that this meeting was held by video conference with Leonid Volkov and Vladimir Ashurkov, another associate of Alexei Navalny, in the presence of permanent representatives 27, along with the US, UK and UK, Canada and Ukraine.
The EU has repeatedly called for the release of Alexei Navalny, who was jailed on 17 January and given almost three years in prison on apparently trumped-up charges. It is no secret to anyone in the world that the Kremlin has sought to silence the opposition leader by imprisoning him after an attempt to kill him with the deadly chemical agent Novichok failed in August.
Witnessing the extent of Russian-European tensions, Moscow expelled three European diplomats on Friday (5 February), accusing them of participating in opposition rallies. It was a political slap in the face, to European diplomatic chief Josep Borrel, who is in Russia just that day. The three countries responded by declaring the three Russian diplomats persona non grata, and amid internal divisions, the EU is considering whether further sanctions are appropriate.
European diplomacy chief Josep Borrell on Tuesday 9 February recommended the adoption of sanctions against the Kremlin following the insult inflicted during his visit to Moscow and announced his intention to make such proposals to member states.
Today, after the Kremlin, represented by its Justice Minister, refused to comply with the demands of the European Court of Human Rights and release Navalny, despite existing international agreements obliging the Kremlin to do so, it is clear that this will lead to even more tension. The dialogue between Russia and the European Union seems to have really broken down.
This article is a translation from the original text in Russian published on the Russian Monitor.