Baltic foreign ministers call for 'immediate release' of Alexei Navalny

National flags of the three Baltic States, from left, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
National flags of the three Baltic States, from left, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The foreign ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania issued a joint statement condemning the detention of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny by the Russian authorities in Moscow on Sunday evening and called for his "immediate release".

Foreign ministers Urmas Reinsalu of Estonia, Edgars Rinkēvičs of Latvia, and Gabrielius Landsbergis of Lithuania issued a joint statement on Sunday.

"Detaining Alexei Navalny by the Russian authorities is completely unacceptable. We demand his immediate release. The EU should act swiftly and if he is not released, we need to consider the imposition of restrictive measures in response to this blatant act," the statement said.

Navalny collapsed on an internal flight in Siberia last August, and it later emerged he had been poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent. He was taken to Germany for treatment despite the Russian authorities attempting to block the move.

He was detained on landing at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport on Sunday after flying from Berlin. This is the first time he had tried to reenter Russia since his poisoning.

All three foreign ministers posted the statement on their social media accounts after each had called for Navalny to be allowed to safely return to Russia hours earlier.

Reinsalu (Isamaa) wrote: "All eyes are on Russia now, Navalny must be allowed to return safely and without the threat of repressions", while Latvia's Rinkēvičs said: "The world is watching."

Ratas: Detaining Navalny is "inadmissible"

Outgoing Prime Minister Juri Ratas (Center) also commented on Navalny's detention and said the Russian authorities should: "cooperate to ensure an impartial international investigation and bring to justice those responsible of [the] assassination attempt on Alexei Navalny. Detaining him after returning home is simply inadmissible."

Editor's note: This article was updated to add Jüri Ratas' comments.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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