France Not Ruling Out New EU Sanctions Against Russia Over Navalny

Henrietta Strickland
April 20, 2021

On Friday, U.S. President Joe Biden called the Kremlin's treatment of Navalny "totally unfair and totally inappropriate".

He was said to be suffering from a heavy cough, with several inmates in his unit recently diagnosed as having tuberculosis. Lawyers say he suffers from two herniated discs that have caused extreme back pain and numbness in his right leg and hands.

Navalny, an anti-corruption campaigner and Putin's most-prominent critic, was first arrested in January upon his return to Russian Federation following a suspected Novichok poisoning, that is thought to have been carried out by an FSB hit squad.

It comes after Yaroslav Ashikhmin, a doctor acting on behalf of Navalny's family, said test results received from the Russian penal colony where the activist is being held show unsafe levels of potassium in his blood along with signs of kidney failure.

The EU's chief diplomat Josep Borrell also said in a statement Sunday that Navalny should have "immediate access to medical professionals he trusts", adding that the issue would be discussed during a meeting of the bloc's foreign ministers on Monday.

German foreign minister Heiko Maas said the issue will be discussed at a meeting of European Union foreign ministers on Monday.

"At tomorrow's Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels, EU foreign ministers will also address Navalny's situation", German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told Bild newspaper on Sunday. "He must immediately receive access to proper medical treatment".

Earlier, his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian also said the bloc was watching Navalny's situation closely, as he warned of possible further sanctions against Russian Federation.

"His right to medical care must be granted without delay".

On Sunday US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said the Kremlin had been warned "that there will be consequences if Mr. Navalny dies".

Meanwhile, the Kremlin dismissed concerns from Western countries over Navalny's state.

Once Mr. Navalny was in prison, the guards tormented him, waking him loudly every hour through the night so he could not sleep.

Navalny insists his ailments are linked to an August 2020 poisoning attack with a military-grade nerve agent that almost took his life, and that he and Western governments blame on the Russian government. "The state of health of those convicted and jailed on Russian territory can not and should not be a theme of their interest", spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Navalny was arrested on January 17 at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport where he had arrived on a flight from Germany.

The 44-year-old was ordered to serve three-and-a-half years in prison for the supposed violation.

Authorities have ramped up pressure on Navalny's supporters in recent months, detaining more than 10,000 protesters at opposition demonstrations in January and February.

A previous version of this article stated that Navalny has been moved to a hospital. The article has now been amended to clarify that the hospital is part of another penal facility.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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