Russia’s Lavrov, EU’s Borrell recognize ties at ‘low point’, amid Navalny case
Josep Borrell is holding talks in Moscow on Friday
«My visit came at the time of the arrest and conviction of Alexei Navalny, as well as the detention of thousands of demonstrators. I conveyed to Mr. Lavrov my deep concern about these facts and called for the release of Navalny and a full investigation of his poisoning», – said at a joint press conference after the talks Borrell.
According to Borrell, the EU, while respecting Russian sovereignty and the internal obligations of the Russian authorities, reminds that Moscow also has international obligations to respect fundamental civil rights and freedoms. Current relations with Russia are marked by disagreements and loss of trust, but there are areas in which we can and should cooperate, the head of European diplomacy said. Among these areas, he named cultural exchange, education, health care, the fight against COVID-19, climate change..
Sergey Lavrov stressed the importance of maintaining a dialogue with the EU, despite the fact that contacts between the parties, according to him, "are going through far from the best times, including in connection with restrictions, with unilateral illegitimate restrictions that the EU introduces under far-fetched pretexts".
Commenting on the situation with the poisoning of Alexei Navalny poison "Newbie", Lavrov stressed that "civilian doctors neither in Russia nor in Germany found the poison". According to the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, only the poison was found "German military doctors". He reiterated that, in response to numerous requests from Russia to provide these materials to Moscow, neither Germany, nor France, nor Sweden (the laboratories of the latter two also confirmed the presence of "Newbie" in Navalny’s analyzes) did not give an answer. At the same time, Lavrov called "tame and obedient" Secretary of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
Before the talks between Lavrov and Borrell, both diplomats also stated the absence of normal contacts between the EU and Russia.. "Definitely, our relations are now extremely tense, and the situation with Navalny – this is the bottom point", – said Josep Borrell.
Borrel’s visit – the first trip of a European official of such a high rank to Russia since 2017. Relations have remained tense since 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea and the conflict erupted in Donbass. Moscow denies Zapal’s accusations of aggression against Ukraine.
Recently, European countries condemned the replacement of a suspended sentence by a Russian court with a real one in the case of Alexei Navalny "Yves Rocher". In Brussels, the verdict was called politicized. The EU also demanded the immediate release of all activists detained at the protests in support of Navalny, as well as the founder of the Anti-Corruption Foundation and critic of the Kremlin..
The correspondent of Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty said on Friday that, according to him, Russia decided to expel three diplomats from the EU countries who were present at the rallies in support of Navalny. These are allegedly diplomats from Germany, Poland and Sweden..
- On January 17, Navalny was detained upon his return to Russia from Germany, where he was undergoing treatment after being poisoned with combat poison. "Newbie" In Tomsk. Russian authorities deny that Navalny was poisoned, no criminal case has been opened in the country.
- Last month, it was reported that the German federal justice department had responded to four legal inquiries from Russia in the case of the poisoning of Alexei Navalny. Moscow was allegedly given the protocols of the interrogation of the politician by the Berlin prosecutor’s office. The German government believes that now the Russian authorities should immediately investigate the alleged attempt on the opposition leader.