A EU top envoy has been told not to ”not be a puppet of the totalitarian regimes around the world,” when he visits Moscow for talks with top officials this week.
Josep Borrell, the EU’s High Representative for foreign affairs and security policy will start a two-day visit on Thursday, the first visit by a European foreign affairs chief in three years. He is under fire from some European lawmakers, for the timing of the visit, the aim of the mission and a lack of clarity about what meetings will take place there.
The visit comes tow days after a Moscow court sent the Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny to prison for more than two and a half years, prompting protests across the country.
Siegfried Muresan, a European lawmaker from Romania who is the deputy president of the European People’s Party challenged the EU’s foreign affairs chief not to “come back empty handed” when he meets Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
Mr Navalny was first detained two weeks ago upon his return to Moscow from Berlin, where he spent several months recovering from poisoning with nerve agent Novichok, an attack he blames on Russian security services and on Mr Putin himself.
We call on him “to negotiate the immediate and unconditional release” of Alexey Navalny “as well as the release of all those wrongfully detained for exercising their rights in Russia, he said in a tweet.
The EPP group called for sanctions against oligarchs and members of the inner circle of President Vladimir Putin and ‘media propagandists’ .and protested the ‘grave’ situation in Russia where “protesters are arrested, the freedom of speech and the right of citizens to democratic opposition is restricted., the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary are not respected.
“Without a significant European reaction to Putin’s clamp down on the opposition, the EU’s foreign policy will only work in favor of the Kremlin”, said Sandra Kalniete, who is deputy chairwoman of the EPP group and in charge of foreign affairs.
„We expect Mr Borrell to live up to the expectations that citizens have of him and make the EU deliver on its ambition to defend rights and values worldwide,” she said.