MEP: EU inaction on Navalny emboldening Russia

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Riho Terras MEP (Isamaa). Source: ERR

MEP Riho Terras (Isamaa) says European inaction in the aftermath of the imprisonment of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny will serve only to make Moscow bolder in its actions.

Terras said: "There is no democracy or rule of law in the Russian context here. The country tried to assassinate one of its own citizens (i.e. Navalny-ed.) and then sentenced him to prison."

The EU, including Estonia, must take concrete action to hammer this message home, Terras added, with the use of a fresh round of tougher sanctions required rather than just words.

Navalny was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison Tuesday. Navalny had a suspended sentence to his name already, having been convicted of embezzlement, but this was converted to real jail time after his return from Germany last month.

Navalny had been recuperating in Germany after last August's Novichok poison attack, thought to have been the work of the FSB, Russia's main internal security service and which saw him fall violently ill on a flight from the Siberian city of Tomsk.

Russian authorities had threatened him with jail if he returned to the country; mass demonstrations in his support have been taking place across Russia.

Specific to the EU is also energy dependency, Terras added.

"Russia's corrupt regime, which is terrorizing its own people, is taking advantage of the fact that they are an important supplier of energy raw materials to Europe. They are trying to force the international community to accept a situation in which human rights and democracy have been sidelined, because day-to-day relations with Russia are necessary. Acceptance of this course of action by the EU will only make Russia more courageous," Terras continued.

"As Navalny said, Putin is trying to intimidate the Russian people - not just Europe," Terras added, paraphrasing a statement Navalny, who was denied legal representation, made in court himself.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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